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Larkin helping Senzel adjust to shortstop

Reds' top prospect trying out new position during Spring Training
MLB.com @m_sheldon

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The original idea was that Reds top prospect Nick Senzel would be exposed to several positions throughout the infield and outfield to get comfortable and more versatile. But in the short term, Senzel appears slated to play only shortstop and third base, which may not be Senzel's primary position for much longer.

"My focus is on shortstop," Senzel said on Tuesday. "I'll take some reps at other spots, but I think third base is a little bit to the side right now."

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The original idea was that Reds top prospect Nick Senzel would be exposed to several positions throughout the infield and outfield to get comfortable and more versatile. But in the short term, Senzel appears slated to play only shortstop and third base, which may not be Senzel's primary position for much longer.

"My focus is on shortstop," Senzel said on Tuesday. "I'll take some reps at other spots, but I think third base is a little bit to the side right now."

That could change later in camp, but Reds manager Bryan Price wanted to keep things simple.

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"We don't want to get him spread out too much," Price said. "I think he played exclusively third base last year. To move him is enough of a challenge."

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During bunt shift defensive drills on Monday, Price was watching Senzel from behind the shortstop spot. Also there was Hall of Fame shortstop and camp instructor Barry Larkin.

Senzel felt comfortable, as he became used to the differences between handling bunts at shortstop compared to third base.

"At third base, you're used to crashing and reading the bunt," Senzel said. "At shortstop, it's more covering the bag or being in a specific place at a specific time. I thought I caught on pretty quick. There are a lot of people there to help me and guide me through it."

Larkin is certainly one of those people. On Tuesday during drills to turn force plays he was behind Senzel as he took ground balls and fired throws to second base.

"Don't stop, don't stop," Larkin called out, wanting Senzel to field and throw in a fluid manner.

"He's great," Senzel said of Larkin before the workout. "He's one of the best to ever do it. Anything that he says, you listen."

Video: Senzel on learning new defensive positions in spring

Price wasn't ready to assess how Senzel was playing at shortstop.

"I'm looking forward to seeing him play, not only in practice, but in games and seeing what he does instinctively," Price said.

"I just look forward to continuing to get better at the position, learning it and getting more reps," Senzel said.

The organization's No. 1 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, Senzel is blocked at his primary spot by Eugenio Suarez. Besides shortstop, he will get chances to play second base and both corner-outfield spots at some point this spring. At shortstop, Cincinnati currently has Jose Peraza, 23, who is still developing.

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"The idea to play the outfield or play second base is in large part if there's an injury or lack of performance issue that creates an opportunity to play or he is ready to be added to the club and we've got to find a place where he can play more frequently than others," Price said.

"The first thing he's got to do is come out and perform and drive that conversation when it is the right time to get him up here and what position he should be playing when he does arrive."

Video: Top Prospects: Nick Senzel, 3B, Reds

Stephenson has sore neck
Reds pitchers have been largely healthy following the first week of their workouts. The lone exception is rotation candidate Robert Stephenson, who is being held back a little. But Stephenson's issue isn't serious.

"A little bit of a crick in his neck. He's fine, the arm is great," Price said. "We're making sure the neck doesn't get him in bad habits."

Reds undecided on starter for spring opener
The Reds open Cactus League play on Friday against the Indians, but Price wasn't ready to announce his pitchers just yet.

"We want to get through the first [live] batting practice before we announce it," Price said.

Reds pitchers faced hitters in live batting practice on Tuesday morning. Bullpen candidates Cody Reed and Zack Weiss were among those who threw.

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.

Cincinnati Reds, Nick Senzel, Robert Stephenson