CINCINNATI -- The Reds went through all of 2016 without notching a pinch-hit home run, the only National League team that experienced such a drought. Their first one in 2017? Of all things, it came from a pitcher doing the pinch-hitting.Reliever Michael Lorenzen had the day off from pitching after
CINCINNATI -- The Reds went through all of 2016 without notching a pinch-hit home run, the only National League team that experienced such a drought. Their first one in 2017? Of all things, it came from a pitcher doing the pinch-hitting.
Reliever Michael Lorenzen had the day off from pitching after working the first two games, but he was sent up to bat for pitcher Cody Reed with two outs in the sixth inning Thursday. On a 3-1 fastball from Adam Morgan, Lorenzen lifted a solo homer to right-center field for the go-ahead run in a 7-4 Reds win over the Phillies.
"I knew he liked to throw fastballs and changeups," said Lorenzen, who broke up a 4-4 tie with his long ball. "I went up there and I was going to hunt the fastball, and [Morgan] threw me changeup, changeup. Then fastball, then changeup. Then he came with the fastball."
According to Statcast™, Lorenzen's homer had an exit velocity of 108 mph -- tied for the sixth-hardest-hit homer by a pitcher in the Statcast™ era -- a 24-degree launch angle and traveled 420 feet, which is tied for the fifth-farthest blast by a pitcher since 2015. Lorenzen was the first pitcher to hit a pinch-hit homer in the Majors since Micah Owings -- also for the Reds -- went yard on May 10, 2009 vs. St. Louis.
"We didn't go over him on the scouting report because he's a pitcher," Morgan said, "but when he stepped up I knew that they weren't just going to throw a pitcher up there, you know what I mean?"
It was the second time in the Majors since 1974 that a pitcher had a pinch-hit homer that broke a tie game. The other time came on June 25, 2003, by Milwaukee's Brooks Kieschnick, but that deserves an asterisk because Kieschnick also played outfield in the Majors before converting to a pitcher.
With the Reds carrying nine relievers at the moment, manager Bryan Price is limited to a four-man bench. Price indicated during Spring Training he wouldn't be afraid to use Lorenzen to pinch-hit in games when he wasn't available to pitch.
"If there was a situation where a runner was on, [Patrick] Kivlehan would have hit," Price said. "But with two outs and nobody on, it made more sense to burn Lorenzen there and still have Kivlehan because of the four-man bench."
It was the second home run of Lorenzen's career, but he was already pitching in an Aug. 19, 2016, game vs. the Dodgers when he went deep against Pedro Baez. That night was also Lorenzen's emotional first game back from bereavement list after his father passed away.
Lorenzen was the center fielder and closer in college at Cal State-Fullerton. He has made his wishes known that he'd love to be a two-way player in the Majors, too.
"Use me. If you need me in the field, use me," Lorenzen said. "I take care of myself physically and mentally to be able to withstand 162 games however you want to use me. I'm ready."
"I've told [Price], 'Use me as much as you want and as much as you can.' He knows that I'm willing. He knows that every time he wants me to pinch-hit, I'm going to have a huge smile on my face. I just have a good time. I think they know I enjoy the game of baseball."
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.