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Senzel looks forward to learning in Reds' camp

GM Williams remains involved with free-agent market
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Top Reds prospect Nick Senzel is highly anticipating his first Spring Training in a big league camp. Senzel was already one of the earliest arrivals getting ready, having arrived at the team's player-development complex in Goodyear, Ariz., a couple of weeks ago.

"It was nice to get into some warm weather," Senzel said on Thursday. "I'm getting some work in and ramping things up."

CINCINNATI -- Top Reds prospect Nick Senzel is highly anticipating his first Spring Training in a big league camp. Senzel was already one of the earliest arrivals getting ready, having arrived at the team's player-development complex in Goodyear, Ariz., a couple of weeks ago.

"It was nice to get into some warm weather," Senzel said on Thursday. "I'm getting some work in and ramping things up."

Senzel took a break from the workouts to take part in the east leg of Reds Caravan through eastern Ohio and West Virginia.

Ranked the No. 1 Reds prospect and No. 2 among Minor League third basemen by MLB Pipeline, Senzel has been preparing for other positions. The Reds plan to expose him to shortstop, second base and the corner-outfield spots.

Senzel, 22, spent the early portion of his offseason taking fly balls since he had never before played outfield. That's been on the back burner for now in Arizona. Instead, he's been working at second base with AZL Reds manager Jose Nieves.

As an amateur player, Senzel played second base and shortstop, but he was exclusively at third base since becoming the second-overall pick of the 2016 Draft.

"We are just working on some different stuff, footwork and stuff around the bag," Senzel said. "It's been going good. It's just trying to refresh some memory and have it stick with me.

"I have a lot of knowledge of the position. I will refresh some memory and get some of the small details figured out."

Video: Senzel discusses his development, looks ahead to '18

Senzel batted .321/.391/.514 with 14 home runs and 65 RBIs in 119 games combined last season at Class A Advanced Daytona and Double-A Pensacola.

Reds general manager Dick Williams believes the best Spring Training plan for Senzel is to get all the experience and exposure he can from big league camp.

"He shouldn't feel any pressure to impress, to make the team," Williams said. "He doesn't have to do anything. We know a lot about him and what we've got in this player. We're very optimistic. We think he should sit back and use this as an opportunity to soak up and enjoy learning from the Major League players. That's how we've talked to him about approaching it."

As far as positions, the Reds have not decided where Senzel will eventually land. Currently, Eugenio Suarez is at third base and Scooter Gennett is at second base. Jose Peraza is expected to replace Zack Cozart at shortstop.

"There's no 'We're going to get him to second [base] and play him a certain percentage of the time because he's got to be there soon.' You've seen this game. You don't know where the opportunities will arise or when," Williams said. "We want to continue to develop him. We've got an elite player, so you don't want to commit to a position change yet."

Last spring, Senzel came over from Minor League camp for a couple of Cactus League games. That gave him a small taste of what's to come in a few weeks.

"There are a couple of different opportunities at different positions," Senzel said. "I'm excited to get out there, be with some of the big league guys, and kind of pick their brains and play some games and be in the lineup. It should be fun."

Williams still looking at free agents

The free-agent market remains relatively slow moving with just a few weeks remaining until camps open. That could create chances for the Reds to make free-agent additions as prices come down. Williams did not rule it out.

"We're not deviating from our plans dramatically, but we are hoping some of the players we might have thought were out of reach will fall within reach," Williams said. "I would expect we'll continue to be active and try to sign at least one more player."

The target is more bullpen help.

"Not exclusively, but that would be the most likely at this point," Williams said.

Almost four-dozen relievers remain on the market, including prominent names like Tyler Clippard, David Hernandez, Jason Motte, Tony Watson and Travis Wood. Williams did not disclose which pitchers the club was pursuing.

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.

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