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Winker eager to bounce back from injury in '19

Rookie outfielder underwent right shoulder surgery in July
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Save for the Thanksgiving holiday and Redsfest this weekend, outfielder Jesse Winker's entire offseason has been spent at the Reds' Spring Training complex in Goodyear, Ariz., getting his surgically repaired right shoulder ready for the 2019 season.

Winker raved about the progress he has made on Thursday during a preview of Redsfest at the Duke Energy Convention Center.

CINCINNATI -- Save for the Thanksgiving holiday and Redsfest this weekend, outfielder Jesse Winker's entire offseason has been spent at the Reds' Spring Training complex in Goodyear, Ariz., getting his surgically repaired right shoulder ready for the 2019 season.

Winker raved about the progress he has made on Thursday during a preview of Redsfest at the Duke Energy Convention Center.

"My rehab is pretty much over at this point," Winker said. "It's been over for a couple of weeks now. All I'm really doing is shoulder work to maintain. I've started my training, so everything has gone great. Everything has gone smooth. It's gone exactly how everybody involved has wanted it to go, so I'm very excited about that."

Winker's season-ending injury came on July 23, when he fell down to avoid a line drive while running the bases. It was diagnosed as a right shoulder subluxation, which means his non-throwing shoulder was partially dislocated.

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After he sustained the injury, Winker revealed it had been something he had been dealing with and managing for 2-3 years in the Minor Leagues.

"It's been happening and we've done everything we can to keep it at bay," Winker said before his surgery. "It's been off and on this whole year with some shoulder pain and this whole subluxation thing. I've had to deal with a few of those. Now it's time to go in there and fix it. Everyone agrees with this step. It's time to go do it."

It was an especially crushing injury as Winker's rookie year looked promising. In 89 games, he batted .299/.405/.431 with seven home runs and 43 RBIs. But he was hitting .362 with six homers since June 1 and was appearing to be an early contender for National League Rookie of the Year Award honors.

"I've already done some exercises with my training and rehab that if I were to do those in prior years, my shoulder really would have been killing me," Winker said Thursday. "So it's super refreshing to go do an exercise and my shoulder not hurt. It's awesome."

The only thing Winker hasn't done is swing a bat. Once he's cleared at the next doctor visit, he is expected to begin hitting on Jan. 7.

"That's the last box to check," Winker said.

Winker, 25, hasn't been working out in solitude in Arizona. Several teammates have also chosen to base their offseason at the team complex, including Scott Schebler, Billy Hamilton, Jose Peraza and Phillip Ervin.

"Anytime you can work out with your teammates, that's cool. I love being around the guys. It's a lot of fun," Winker said. "We've got a great, great staff there. I'm very lucky to have such a great staff there. I'm very thankful for them. They've taken really, really good care of me."

After he played both left and right field last season, Winker is likely to be the regular right fielder in 2019, with Schebler moving over from right to left.

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Winker will be working for a new manager in David Bell, and a mostly all-new coaching staff. He met Bell for the first time this week and has spoken to hitting coach Turner Ward on the phone. Winker already played in the Minors for first-base coach Delino DeShields and considered him one of his favorite managers.

"It's a new year. We're turning a page as an organization, and I think it's time we start winning here," Winker said. "That's the overall message that's being said. It's a very good message. It's a very exciting message."

On a personal note, Winker is ready to put his truncated rookie season behind him and resume his career.

"I'm like, 'It's time now,' and it's only November," Winker said. "I cannot wait to play baseball. I've missed it. I can't wait to get going as soon as I can. It's not how I wanted my first year to end. That two months we had in the middle of the year -- June and July -- was probably the most fun I've had on a baseball field. I hope we can do that for six, seven, eight months."

Worth noting
The Reds claimed outfielder/first baseman Jordan Patterson off waivers from the Mets on Thursday. It is the second club this week for Patterson, who was claimed by New York on Monday from the Rockies. Cincinnati now has a full 40-man roster after adding the left-handed hitter.

Patterson, who turns 27 in February, hasn't appeared in the Major Leagues since 2016 for Colorado. In his 10 games, he batted .444 (8-for-18).

Over 118 games last season at Triple-A Albuquerque, Patterson hit .271/.367/.525 with 26 home runs and 76 RBIs.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Jesse Winker