Notes: Senzel 'on a mission'; Moose-Galvis
CINCINNATI -- Nick Senzel wants to advance from being the novice center fielder he was for the Reds as a rookie in 2019, and it particularly showed during Tuesday’s 9-7 exhibition victory vs. the Tigers.
With two outs in the eighth inning, Detroit's Harold Castro hit a double to the wall in center field. With slow-footed catcher Grayson Greiner running from first base, Senzel retrieved the ball and made a strong throw to cutoff man Freddy Galvis. The shortstop turned and threw to Tucker Barnhart at the plate to nail Greiner for the inning-ending out.
In terms of fundamentals, it was the perfect execution of a relay.
“That's what has to happen to win games, crisp relay throws like that,” Senzel said on Wednesday. “We practice it all the time, and for it to come at a big point in the game -- it was obviously helpful for our team, so I felt really good.
“I knew I put a good throw on it. When Freddy caught the ball, I saw the runner had just touched third. And Freddy's got a great arm, so I knew that if he made a good throw around the dish, that we had a shot to get him.”
An infielder his whole career until last year, Senzel stated that he was “100 percent comfortable” now as a center fielder following a steep learning curve.
“I was thrown into the fire last year. I was just learning the position on the fly and during Major League games and making adjustments,” Senzel said. “I didn't really have any knowledge of the position, because I'd never played in the outfield. After spending a full year in the big leagues and an offseason and a Spring Training and then quarantine and then this, getting prepared for my second season, I'm leaps and bounds more comfortable than I was last year.”
During the shutdown, Senzel estimated that he dropped 20 pounds to increase his speed on the bases and in the grass. The time off enabled him to prepare after his winter was spent rehabbing from September surgery for a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
“I think I'm quite a bit faster,” he said.
The 25-year-old has shown some power during the three-week Summer Camp and has fully recovered from a hyperextended left elbow suffered early on. He is viewed as 100 percent ready for the season.
“We all know what kind of player Nick is and is going to be,” said Reds manager David Bell. “He’s still a young player. I know last year wasn’t the easiest of years for him, but I think it really helped to prepare him going into this season. He continues to really show and impress me with just how focused he is. He’s on a mission right now. He has that healthy edge he carries himself with.”
Moustakas and Galvis clicking
Another Reds player who shed weight during the forced time off was second baseman Mike Moustakas, who dropped 12-15 pounds doing cardio work on his Peloton bike and swimming. Relatively new to second base, he’s noticed a difference in the field.
“I’m definitely getting to balls that I wouldn’t have gotten to a couple months ago,” Moustakas said. “I just feel good around the bases, feel good around the bag. Just continuously trying to work with Bop [coach Delino DeShields] and getting good, quality work in. I’m still learning how to play second, but I feel really good over there right now.”
Moustakas, who converted from third base full time after signing a four-year, $64 million contract in December, felt he was meshing well with his double play partner at shortstop, Galvis.
“He’s one of the nicest guys and greatest guys I’ve ever been around,” Moustakas said. “For as great of a dude as he is, and as nice as he is, he’s a competitor and the guy wants to win. We take our reps together anytime he’s at short and I’m at second. We take our reps, do our cuts, all that stuff. Not just Bop, but Freddy has been helping a lot at second base too with footwork, positioning and stuff around the bag. To get knowledge from a middle infielder like that is pretty cool.”
Time for bench players
After he had five plate appearances -- including an unofficial one -- on Tuesday, Joey Votto was a healthy scratch from Wednesday’s lineup. Josh VanMeter started for Votto, and Bell will also be looking to get opportunities for fellow utility player Kyle Farmer as the season gets going to keep them sharp.
“We’ve already talked about the three-batter minimum and how that can create pinch-hitting opportunities -- maybe even early in the game,” Bell said. “In the end, maybe their overall playing time is less, but I would say the playing time they do get will be that much more important. It’s just as important for them to stay ready and really, an even bigger part of our team.”