Bull Pennings: Reds' Frazier cooked as Rolen waffled

By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Will he? Won't he?

It was difficult enough for the Reds as they waited … and waited … and waited for a decision from third baseman Scott Rolen regarding whether he would play or retire in 2013.

But how about Todd Frazier?

The rookie who burst onto the Cincinnati scene last summer with 19 homers and 61 RBI was set to enter spring camp as the leading candidate to play third base this year.

Unless the waffling Rolen decided to play.

So as Rolen's indecision lingered all winter, it was impossible for Frazier not to stay tuned to the vagaries.

“I guess so,” Frazier admits. “But it didn't really bother me. I did my offseason like usual so that I would go into spring thinking third base is my spot.

“It's nothing cocky. It's the mindset you have to have.”

All true. Except, if Rolen showed up … then third base wasn't Frazier's.

Finally, only six days ago, Rolen went public with his decision. Sort of (the decision part, not the public part).

“Right now, I'm simply not ready to make a commitment,” Rolen said in a statement issued by the Reds last week. “I would like to leave my options open, without closing any doors. I am looking forward to all of the challenges, both personally and professionally, I will face in the future.”

Looks like a retirement statement.

Sounds like a let-me-chew-on-this statement.

While the periodic media speculation this winter regarding Rolen's decision didn't exactly weigh on Frazier, you bet he paid attention.

“I'd see it,” Frazier says. “I'd be lying if I said I didn't. It involves your livelihood. You come into spring training not knowing what the heck is going on.

“But it really wasn't that big of a deal. I like Scott. He's a great guy. I learned a lot from him. And I'm sure I can learn a lot more.”

It wasn't like the Reds were feeding him daily updates. First, they were as in the dark as everyone else with Rolen and, second, it's not like it was their responsibility, anyway.

Manager Dusty Baker simply told Frazier at the end of last season: “Work on your footwork, because you might be playing third base next season.”

So that's what he did.

Certainly, it was nice for Frazier, 27, to focus on one position after playing first base, third base, left field, right field and designated hitter during a rookie season in which he played himself right into the Reds' plans.

As he says, “You just want to understand your situation.”

But as he also says, “You don't want to step on people's toes.”

Without Rolen's toes in camp, it's full steam ahead.

“I'm still learning from everybody,” Frazier says. “I'm asking a lot of questions. It's not like I've been here six or seven years and understand every pitcher. But I understand the circumstances, and you try to be yourself.”

Now?

“Here we are, baby,” he says, grinning. “Back and raring to go.”

Sunblock Day? Not when its 46 degrees during the workout at 10:30 a.m.

Likes: Baker in good health this spring following the small stroke last September that sidelined him for a time. … Outfielder Ryan Ludwick re-signed and thriving in Cincinnati. Good dude. … The choice line from Mets GM Sandy Alderson last winter continuing to play this spring. Regarding the Mets' weak outfield, Alderson quipped, “What outfield?” Now, having whiffed on free agent Michael Bourn and stuck with Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieunweiss and Mike Baxter, it's gotta be fun for Duda, Baxter and Nieunweiss each time they pass the GM. Seriously, though, I do admire Alderson's honesty and ability to reel off quips. … Indiana University's Victor Oladipo easily is the national player of the year, in my mind. … Stacked enchiladas at Blue Adobe Grille in Mesa.

Dislikes: Every spring I cringe when I'm in Arizona and motorcycles fly past me on the freeways … and their pilots are not wearing helmets. Live on the edge, that's your choice. But I can't help visualizing some of those heads popping like overripe tomatoes that are dropped on the asphalt. I hope I never have to see that.

Rock ‘n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

“Well those drifters days are past me now

“I've got so much more to think about

“Deadlines and commitments

“What to leave in, what to leave out”

-- Bob Seger, Against the Wind

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