Stephenson prepared to fill in at first base

Reds rookie catcher Tyler Stephenson had little experience with pinch-hitting before reaching the big leagues. But Stephenson has shown he can handle what is often a difficult task for younger players.

During the eighth inning of Thursday’s 13-8 loss to the Rockies, Stephenson pinch-hit and batted not once, but twice, for the pitcher. His two-run homer in his first at-bat sparked the eight-run rally. He struck out as the 11th man to bat to end the inning.

“Just always staying locked in, ready to go,” Stephenson said on Friday. “Being in the National League, being in our spot, there’s always a chance to have that pinch-hit opportunity late in the game and stuff. The staff does a great job getting us ready in the cage. It’s always thinking an at-bat will happen and not checking out of a game.”

Stephenson, 24, has two pinch-hit homers already. On Sept. 14, 2020, he delivered a walk-off two-run homer to defeat the Pirates. On April 17 of this season, his pinch-hit RBI single to the outfield wall in the bottom of the 10th inning gave Cincinnati a walk-off win over Cleveland.

“When that at-bat comes, treat it like any other at-bat. Get a good pitch, be on time and something good will happen,” Stephenson said.

Lately, Stephenson has tried his hand at another new role — playing first base. He made his first professional appearance there for one inning during a 9-0 loss…

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