Senzel's Player of the Week encore: Home run, 3 hits

May 2nd, 2023

SAN DIEGO – After Reds center fielder  got to Arizona early for Spring Training to continue rehab on his surgically repaired left big toe, he was often on his own during his downtime. Senzel used that time in January for self-reflection, possibly sensing that his career was nearing a crossroads. 

Senzel's first four years in the big leagues were marked by unrealized potential and injuries that frequently put him out of action.

"Feeling like this year was a big opportunity for me,” Senzel said. “I don’t view it as like do-or-die, I just feel like it’s been time to get something rolling. I had to ask myself some tough questions. I had to put in extra work. I had to self-reflect, do different things and really dig deep. Find myself, get my priorities straight and really, really know what I want in this game."

Senzel put together one of the most productive weeks of his career last week and kept it going on Monday night against the Padres. In an 8-3 Reds loss at Petco Park, he notched three hits, including a fourth-inning solo home run for a go-ahead run.

"That guy is something else right now. Fun to watch," said Reds starting pitcher , who gave up four earned runs and nine hits over 4 1/3 innings with two walks and three strikeouts.

Earlier in the day, Senzel was named the National League's Player of the Week for the first time in his career.

In his last seven games, the 27-year-old Senzel is batting .520 (13-for-25) with three homers, 10 RBIs and nine runs scored. He has a six-game hitting streak, including five multi-hit games. His 1.685 OPS during the hit streak is the best six-game span for a Reds player since Jesse Winker from Aug. 6-12, 2021.

Over this stretch, Senzel has struck out just once. He's the first Cincinnati player since Scooter Gennett in 2018 to collect 12-plus hits and 21-plus total bases with zero or one strikeout in a six-game period.

“It was a lot of fun today being able to celebrate him winning player of the week," Reds manager David Bell said. "He has been playing so well leading up to that week. It just carried over into tonight. He’s playing with a lot of confidence."

San Diego took a 2-0 lead against Weaver during his 32-pitch first inning, but the Reds evened the game in the third inning on 's two-run double against lefty starter Blake Snell.

In the fourth inning with one out, Senzel jumped on a first-pitch fastball from Snell and drove it over the fence in left-center field for a 3-2 Reds lead.

Senzel has hit three of the Reds' last five homers.

"I think it's just, honestly, being free and easy and just being aggressive at the plate," he said. "Those [homers] take care of themselves. Not trying to do it, just trying to hit in the middle and just trying to be free and easy."

Weaver lost the lead in the bottom of the fourth when Ha-Seong Kim hit a leadoff double and scored on Trent Grisham's RBI double. Following Weaver's departure, Kim's three-run homer against  put the Padres up for good. 

Defensively, Senzel has also taken well to a versatile role. He has been utilized more at his natural position at third base -- including on Monday, when he moved there in the seventh inning. The first batter for the Padres in the seventh, Xander Bogaerts, hit a grounder to third base, where Senzel charged to make the tough pickup and throw to first base for the out. 

"Comes in and makes a great play at third base. That’s pretty rare to be able to do that and do it so naturally like that," Bell said.

Playing third base has Senzel feeling more focused in games. He said that it has helped him come into his own this season.

"Third base is kind of home for me," he said. "I’ve logged so many innings there. For them to give me an opportunity to play there and show my versatility there has helped me, and I would say helped the team. 

"I like center field, but playing a little third base has brought some happiness to me."

Being honored as Player of the Week meant a lot to Senzel.

"It’s emotional to me because I know I battled through a lot to get to this point," he said. "To have a good week like that and help the team in some series is just a blessing."