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Lorenzen aces first test in tight spot vs. Bucs

Top prospect Senzel fielding, taking BP without issue after bout with vertigo
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen couldn't wait to pitch again in a high-leverage game situation and was pumped about making his season debut on Wednesday night against the Pirates. Lorenzen had been on the disabled list since mid-March with a strained teres major muscle near his right shoulder.

In what ended up as a 5-4 loss for Cincinnati in 12 innings, Lorenzen came on to pitch the top of the 10th inning of a 4-4 game. According to Statcast™, his fastball averaged 96 mph, but he was hitting as high as 98 mph on the radar gun. The right-hander notched two routine outs and nearly retired the first three batters he faced, getting ahead of Sean Rodriguez with a 1-2 count.

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CINCINNATI -- Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen couldn't wait to pitch again in a high-leverage game situation and was pumped about making his season debut on Wednesday night against the Pirates. Lorenzen had been on the disabled list since mid-March with a strained teres major muscle near his right shoulder.

In what ended up as a 5-4 loss for Cincinnati in 12 innings, Lorenzen came on to pitch the top of the 10th inning of a 4-4 game. According to Statcast™, his fastball averaged 96 mph, but he was hitting as high as 98 mph on the radar gun. The right-hander notched two routine outs and nearly retired the first three batters he faced, getting ahead of Sean Rodriguez with a 1-2 count.

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"I was feeling pretty good, but then I tried to get too cool out there with a 1-2 count," Lorenzen said on Thursday morning. "I felt myself overthrow, got into a 3-2 count and it cost me like an extra 10 pitches rather than just putting him away."

Rodriguez drew a walk after looking at two fastballs and a slider for ball four. Josh Harrison followed by hitting a first-pitch slider for a single to put Lorenzen in a jam. But he got out of it with a David Freese groundout to second base.

"We'll learn from that one," Lorenzen said. "I know how much we're being used, so pitch efficiency is probably the most important. That will be an adjustment I'll make."

In the bottom of the 10th with two outs and a runner on first base, interim manager Jim Riggleman lifted Lorenzen for pinch-hitter Tony Cruz -- the last man on his bench. Lorenzen, who has two career home runs, would normally be allowed to hit for himself in that situation.

"I've been taking batting practice about every day in the Minor Leagues," Lorenzen said. "I feel good. I think they just wanted to get the first one out of the way. I understand that, but now that I've gotten my first one out of the way, [Riggleman] is going to be more open to use me however he needs to."

Lorenzen slugged a pinch-hit home run for the Reds on April 6, 2017, vs. the Phillies, that snapped a tie and led to a win. He loves getting to bat.

"I've begged them to do that," Lorenzen said.

Rainey remains cool, throws heat

In his big league debut for the Reds on April 10 at Philadelphia, reliever Tanner Rainey allowed four runs when he gave up a grand slam to Scott Kingery. Rainey gave up three runs, three hits and three walks in his second game two days later against the Cardinals before he was sent back to Triple-A Louisville.

Rainey was recalled Wednesday and pitched in a tight jam against the Pirates. After Homer Bailey left in the sixth inning with two runners on, Rainey walked his first batter, Harrison, but struck out Gregory Polanco and Francisco Cervelli and got a grounder to the mound from Josh Bell.

Video: PIT@CIN: Rainey gets out of huge jam in the 6th

"As to why that was different than the first time, maybe a little less jitters," Riggleman said on Thursday. "He probably had some jitters last night, but a little less than the first time."

Rainey's fastball averaged 98.7 mph and twice topped out at 99.5 mph, according to Statcast™. He also featured a very nasty 91-mph slider.

"Last night, I thought after getting behind in the count he collected himself, challenged hitters and threw strikes," Riggleman said. "He had a really devastating slider to put hitters away with."

Senzel update

Reds top prospect Nick Senzel, who is working way back from dealing with vertigo, has been at the team's player development complex in Goodyear, Ariz. Senzel, ranked No. 1 in the Reds system and No. 6 overall by MLBPipeline, has been taking groundballs and batting practice without issue. At some point, when cleared, Senzel will play in games at extended spring camp.

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, Michael Lorenzen