Zack Cozart, SS, Reds

The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

What’s up: Maybe Zack Cozart will ride into Coors Field on a don­key when the Reds open a four-game series against the Rock­ies on Mon­day. In case you missed it, team­mate Joey Votto, the Reds’ slug­ging first base­man, promised to buy Cozart a don­key if Cozart gets a start­ing spot in the All-Star Game. “I don’t know why I like don­keys so much,” Cozart re­cently told MLB Net­work ra­dio. “Maybe be­cause they look like they’re real chill.” Wed­nes­day, Votto made one fi­nal push be­fore al­ls­tar vot­ing closed. Votto dressed in a don­key cos­tume and held up a sign that stated “Vote Cozart” dur­ing an in­ter­view on the field at Great Amer­i­can Ball Park. Cozart stood next to him with a T-shirt that stated: “Life is bet­ter with a don­key.”

Back­ground: Cozart, 31, is hav­ing a career year, even though the Reds en­tered the week­end in last place in the Na­tional League Cen­tral with a 33-45 record. He was sched­uled to come off the 10-day dis­abled list the week­end after suf­fer­ing a strained quadri­ceps. With a bat­ting line of .320/.404/.562, Cozart held a lead of more than 250,000 votes over Los Angeles Dodgers short­stop Corey Sea­ger, but Sea­ger was clos­ing the gap as vot­ing closed Thurs­day night.

Saun­ders’ take: Cozart is one of the best field­ing short­stops in the Na­tional League, but he had never been a great hit­ter un­til this sea­son. He’s a career .252 hit­ter with a .700 OPS (on-base per­cent­age, plus slug­ging), but his OPS this sea­son is .966. Re­build­ing Cincin­nati has a lot of young in­field tal­ent in its farm sys­tem, so Cozart could be on the trade block. The Reds came close to trad­ing him to Seat­tle last sum­mer be­fore the deal fell through in the fi­nal hour. But a trade might not be easy to swing now, be­cause con­tend­ing teams seem set at short­stop. Mean­while, Cozart had a change of heart about his pos­si­ble all-star gift. “I should have started with a Lam­borgh­ini,” he told WCOP ra­dio. “But I like don­keys so much, maybe a don­key is my Lam­borgh­ini.”

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