GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen's top priority in Spring Training will be to get innings and prepare himself to pitch in what could be a multitude of roles. However, Lorenzen's offseason workouts also included outfield work and batting practice -- and that could continue in the spring.Manager David
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen's top priority in Spring Training will be to get innings and prepare himself to pitch in what could be a multitude of roles. However, Lorenzen's offseason workouts also included outfield work and batting practice -- and that could continue in the spring.
Manager David Bell is willing to make use of Lorenzen's ability as a two-way player, though he will likely pick his spots.
"We're going to have time as Spring Training goes that I would anticipate he will get some time in the outfield," Bell said as Reds camp opened on Tuesday. "But with the importance that he brings to us as a pitcher, we need him to focus and really build himself up in that area first. I would say during the second half of Spring Training, there would be opportunities for him to get in the outfield and get some at-bats."
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Lorenzen batted .290 in 54 games last season and led all pitchers with four home runs (two as a pinch-hitter). He has hit six homers over his career. On the mound, the 27-year-old was 4-2 with a 3.11 ERA in 45 games -- including three starts to end the 2018 season.
"The foundation of what I do is pitching, but then you can add anything on top of that as well," Lorenzen said. "What I like about them is they aren't like, 'We have to wrap you in bubble wrap. You can't go out there and run bases.' They understand I've done it my whole life, and they can trust the fact that I'll be OK out there. That's all I can ask for."
Before he was drafted by Cincinnati in 2013, Lorenzen was a college center fielder and pitcher for Cal State Fullerton.
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Former interim manager Jim Riggleman used Lorenzen in right field for one inning last season on Aug. 13 vs. Cleveland.
"I'm excited just because a lot of the times, people don't know necessarily. They don't know I played center field in college, and it's the best thing I do on a baseball field," Lorenzen said. "I'm kind of excited to be able to do that in a game."
During the offseason, Lorenzen did his usual workouts and throwing program. He added hitting and outfield work on top of that. During Spring Training, he could take some rotations during drills and BP with the position players.
"Right now, we just want to keep all the options open. And I definitely don't want to limit him in any way," Bell said. "He's really preparing himself to help our team in any capacity he can. That's pretty special. You can't limit that. I certainly don't want to limit that. The guy is a great athlete. He's worked so hard to put himself in this position. It's a great option to have. We're lucky to have him."
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Rotation close to set
It appears there won't be a drawn-out competition for the Reds rotation this spring. Since three starters in Sonny Gray, Tanner Roark and Alex Wood were added in trades and with two holdovers in Luis Castillo and Anthony DeSclafani, the starting five seems about settled.
"It's going to take shape here pretty quick," Bell said. "If you look at the guys you just mentioned, that's the group. We just haven't made any final determinations yet."
Pitchers like Lorenzen, Cody Reed, Sal Romano and Brandon Finnegan could be used in starter/long relief/swingman roles as needed. Of the group, only Lorenzen is assured of a spot.
"I think that is looked at now as an exciting role where you can be ready to be an impact and be used as a weapon," Bell said.
One trend that emerged in 2018 was teams using an "opener" or relief pitcher to start a game and pitch an inning -- or even just one batter. The Rays were the pioneers with closer Sergio Romo starting some games. Bell wasn't expecting to follow the same route.
"I would guess, right now, probably not, just the way we added to our rotation," he said. "But I haven't completely ruled it out. The way things are taking shape, we see our four or five starters as a strength now. Maybe one of those rotation spots would be open to something like that."
Utility infielder Alex Blandino, who had season-ending surgery to reconstruct a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee, expects to be ready for Opening Day. Blandino said he's been hitting and taking ground balls but wasn't sure if he'd be clear to fully participate when full-squad workouts begin next week.
Reliever Matt Bowman might be held back for the first couple of days of workouts because of an undisclosed injury.
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.