Bell: Senzel's versatility key to reaching Majors

New Reds manager discusses roles of Lorenzen, Bailey at Winter Meetings

December 10th, 2018

LAS VEGAS -- One of the big questions for the Reds this offseason is where they will find room for top prospect Nick Senzel on the big league roster. When Reds manager David Bell met Senzel recently during Redsfest, he learned quickly how eager Senzel was to make the team.

"I know he's preparing himself to play center field," Bell said during his media session at the Winter Meetings. "He told me that when he walked by me. That's him. He's confident. He's an athlete."

Senzel, 23, was limited to 44 games at Triple-A in 2018 because of vertigo and a fractured right index finger that required season-ending surgery in June. During fall instructional league, the infielder was given reps in center field and left field for the first time until he needed to have bone chips removed from his elbow in October.

Cincinnati has no open spots in its infield, but the club needs a center fielder to replace . Senzel could potentially play second base, third base, center field and left field.

"I think he's capable of doing whatever we [ask him to] do," Bell said. "But it's our job to put him in a good position, especially breaking into the Major Leagues. He's going to contribute. He's going to contribute a lot. And good for him. He has the versatility to be able to break in and have the option to play multiple positions."

As the offseason moves forward, Bell hasn't made commitments regarding other issues with the club, such as lineup construction or how he will use certain players, but he seemed willing to explore numerous possibilities.

Pitcher would like to be in the rotation after he got three starts at the end of the 2018 season. Lorenzen was a key member of the bullpen, and he also hit four home runs while batting .290.

"I think he's preparing for anything, that's for sure," Bell said. "He's a hard worker and takes great care of himself. He's going to be ready for anything. I don't know him as well as everyone else in the organization, but I would have no hesitation to putting him in any role, any position. He's so competitive."

Using Lorenzen in the outfield is not out of the question.

"I think he gives you the luxury of having a pitcher but also maybe a guy that can play out there," Bell said. "I have to take into consideration our medical department, our pitching staff, all the coaches. I don't hesitate to put them in situations where they just have to use their athleticism. I'm not afraid of him getting injured, necessarily, but it will be important to not overuse him."

As for another hot-button issue, Bell has made no decision on how he would use pitcher Homer Bailey. The veteran right-hander was 1-14 with a 6.09 ERA last season, and the club lost 19 of his 20 starts.

Bailey, who is 9-26 with a 6.29 ERA in 44 starts since 2016, is owed $23 million in the final year of his contract in '19, plus a $5 million buyout of his '20 club option. Cincinnati considered trying him in the bullpen last season, and Bell did not rule that out for next season.

"My focus, and our focus, is how can we maximize who he is, not only for us but who he is, and how he can feel great about the career he's had and be able to contribute," Bell said. "I've reached out to Homer, but not to the point that we know exactly what that's going to look like. But the focus is just making a great situation for him and for our team."