CINCINNATI -- During the extended time off for Major League Baseball, Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen was visible on social media and posted videos of his intense workouts and bullpen sessions. Even with Opening Day still three weeks away, Lorenzen feels in midseason form.
“I’m ready to go. We could be playing games today,” Lorenzen said on Sunday.
Lorenzen threw 35 pitches over two innings of simulated action -- a.k.a. live batting practice -- and faced a decent group of hitters in Joey Votto, Eugenio Suárez and Jesse Winker.
“I threw everything -- cutters, slider, curveball, changeup, fastball. Everything feels good,” Lorenzen said. “It was really nice to run in from the bullpen. I’ve been visualizing it for so long. … It was like I’d see it a million times this second offseason we’ve had. ... It was fun to run in from center field, get on the mound, have my warmup throws and get a real hitter in there.”
Lorenzen, 28, is excited for the opportunities to pitch out of the bullpen in a 60-game season. Manager David Bell and pitching coach Derek Johnson have signaled they could be creative in how they use their pitchers.
“I would like to throw in every single game, to be honest,” Lorenzen said. “We only have 60 of them going into the playoffs. I’m going to be lobbying to throw in every single game. I’ve told D.J. that, and he said he just might. We’ve got 60 games. I’m prepped for it.”
Over a career-high 73 games (83 1/3 innings) last season, Lorenzen posted a 2.92 ERA. He also played 29 games in the outfield, including six starts as a center fielder.
It’s unclear how much Lorenzen will get to hit or play the outfield, since the club has so much depth. Because the National League will have the designated hitter this season, there won’t be any need to utilize his ability to hit for himself to stay in games or pinch-hit.
“We’ll have to see,” Lorenzen said. “I’m still taking batting practice. I’m still going to be shagging [balls]. I’m still going to be doing all of the same stuff. We’ll see how it changes in that regard. I definitely don’t foresee myself DHing in any games. We just have way too many stud bats that there would be no reason for me to do that. I’m focused on coming in and pitching every single game. However else they need to use me, then I’m fine with it.”
Lorenzen’s speed on the bases could be utilized as a pinch-runner, especially in extra innings, with a new rule that puts a runner on second base to begin each frame.
“It would be fun to score the winning run all the time, that’s for sure,” Lorenzen said. “I’m excited about it. I don’t know how the rules work, in a sense, if I pitch in every game. I might not be available in extra innings. We’ll see what happens. You guys know I’m available for anything.”
DH pool could be large
Bell has not settled on a DH for the season, and he expects to have multiple players rotate through that spot in the lineup. The chances are strong that the DH will be from the depth of the many outfielders.
“We looked at the challenge in Spring Training of getting quality hitters into our lineup,” Bell said. “The problem came with our outfield -- more than anything, just because we had guys that we needed to get in there and there weren’t enough spots to make that happen. Not to say our DH won’t come from an infield-based player at times, but I would say the majority of DH at-bats will come from outfielders.”
Reds rotation ace Luis Castillo also threw two innings of live BP. Castillo faced Suárez, Votto, Winker, Shogo Akiyama and Phillip Ervin.