Reds rotation candidate Michael Lorenzen isn’t sweating his readiness for the regular season. Lorenzen might not be on the active roster from Day 1 as he deals with a slight strain of his right shoulder, but if the schedule can be manipulated in such a way, the right-hander might not miss a start anyway.
“We can get creative with it,” Lorenzen said on Thursday. “If there’s a start here that I miss or something like that, with the off-days it’s not the end of the world. When we’re in September going for a playoff spot, we’re not going to be thinking about who started ready to roll April 1. That’s the way I’m approaching it. I’ll be ready to roll.”
Lorenzen abruptly exited an intrasquad game on Saturday when he felt something that wasn’t right while throwing a new curveball he has been developing.
Because of a previous injury, Lorenzen knew the warning signs and backed off from pitching before things got more serious.
“I took [the curveball] out into the game and it was awesome every time I threw it. I felt comfortable, I was getting a little more layback than I used to because I was throwing it properly,” Lorenzen explained. “With how loose I was, I overstretched a little bit and started to feel it here and there. That’s what happened, there’s a little bit of a stretch down in here (lifting up his right arm). I did that in 2018 with the teres major and was out for a really long time.
“I knew I was just going to shut it down. I know it’s not that bad. There’s no need to do what I did back in ‘18. I’ve learned from that. Now, instead of being out for a month and a half, I don’t think I’ll miss any time at all.”
Lorenzen is not on the list of upcoming starters for the club’s remaining Cactus League games. The club believes that he shouldn’t need long to get back, but he might be on the injured list on Opening Day.
“He’s continuing to take steps towards getting back to full game action,” manager David Bell said. “All indications are it’s not going to be any sort of long-term injury.”
On Thursday afternoon, Lorenzen played catch and threw at distances that reached 110 feet. There were no issues.
“Just trying to make sure there’s no setbacks or anything like that,” Lorenzen said. “As long as we continue this path and are patient with it, I don’t want to give an exact timeline, but I don’t foresee me missing any time. One more outing for me will be good. Whether I’m able to get that in on Monday before we leave or leading up to Opening Day or I think I might be able to get it in that week. … Just a little hiccup here, thankful that it happened during Spring Training.”
Lorenzen could pitch in “B” games and not have it affect any potential backdating of a stint on the IL.
“Just because of the timing, we are in Spring Training and how close Opening Day is, there may not be a chance that he’s ready on Opening Day,” Bell said. “But given the fact that we’re building him up as a starter, that’s not the most important consideration anyway, so we’re trying to get him back as quick as possible to be able to continue his build-up. We think we can do that pretty quickly and have him back shortly after the season starts.”
Lorenzen, who is trying to transition from a bullpen role, last pitched on March 15 vs. the Angels when he worked 3 2/3 innings. In past years, he arrived to camp ready for the regular season and pitched with full intensity each time out.
This year, Lorenzen tried dialing it back so he could gradually build up the intensity while also working on the feel of his pitches. He believes that it was the right way to go.
“My skill is beyond any time I’ve ever been when it comes to starting a season,” Lorenzen said. “I’ve always rushed velo and the skill pays the price for it to where my stuff is going, but it’s kind of sloppy and it’s not clean. My last outing, it felt like it was all coming together. That doesn’t even cross my mind with anything with my shoulder or anything like that. That was a bummer for that to happen, but the way I’m spotting my fastball, my changeup the way it’s moving, I’m landing the curveball, I’m getting swings and misses with the slider, I’m able to elevate the fastball. I’m getting the cutter down to righties.
“There’s a lot of skill with all those pitches that if I don’t have the skill, it can all get really messy. From here on out, I’m going to go into every spring and take this approach. I can always add that extra velo more and more as the season gets near. But the skill is something that if you overlook it, it takes a while to find.”