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Notes: Suárez eyes Opening Day; Senzel 

@m_sheldon
February 13, 2020

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds third baseman Eugenio Suárez was an early arrival to Spring Training, but his recovery from last month’s right shoulder surgery has prevented him from doing any baseball activities. There was good news on Thursday, however. Originally not expected to be ready for Opening Day, Suárez --

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds third baseman Eugenio Suárez was an early arrival to Spring Training, but his recovery from last month’s right shoulder surgery has prevented him from doing any baseball activities.

There was good news on Thursday, however.

Originally not expected to be ready for Opening Day, Suárez -- and the club -- now believes it’s possible.

“The last report I had is very encouraging,” said Reds manager David Bell. “He’s responding really well to all the treatment. All the signs are the surgery was really successful. Right after the surgery, there was some -- and there still is -- some question as what date he will be back, but the last few times that we’ve talked, it sounds more and more like it’s realistic to really shoot for Opening Day. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.”

On Jan. 28, Suárez had surgery to remove loose cartilage in his right shoulder.

About a week earlier, he injured his shoulder in a swimming pool accident at his home in Pinecrest, Fla.

“At home, I play with my daughter in the pool,” Suárez said. “She just pushes me into the pool playing. I did it a lot, almost every day. That time, I dove into the shallow [end]. I hit the floor with my hand. My shoulder went back … I feel a little bit of a pop, but I didn’t pay attention because it wasn’t bad, so I kept going and played.

"The next couple of days after that, I started feeling something in my shoulder. I didn’t pay attention. I just kept going and hitting good and working out really good. When I started throwing, I felt like I didn’t have any power. I didn’t feel like my ball could run and I felt hurt. That’s when I called the doctor.”

Over 159 games last season, Suárez batted .271 with a .930 OPS, 103 RBIs and 49 home runs, the last of which were second in the Major Leagues. His career year also ranked him sixth in the National League for total bases (329), eighth in slugging percentage (.572) and 10th in RBIs. His 29 homers after the All-Star break led the Majors.

Suárez, 28, is in the third year of his seven-year, $66 million contract, which runs through the 2024 season, with a $15 million club option for the '25 season.

“It’s getting better. Better every day,” Suárez said. “Every day is an opportunity to be better. I’m working to get back soon. We’ve got to think about Opening Day.”

Senzel progressing

Reds center fielder Nick Senzel, who had his own surgery in September to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, has been hitting and is still rehabilitating.

“Nick is still going through his process,” Bell said. “I wouldn’t say take it easy, but with the throwing, he’s still on a program. He’s actually kind of picking the throwing program back up today or tomorrow. He’s another guy that’s on pace and on target for Opening Day. He’s swinging. He’ll be able to have at-bats, obviously running and doing all the drills in the outfield as normal, but the throwing process will be a little bit slower than the other guys.”

Later start to camp

Reds Spring Training opened on Thursday with the official reporting of pitchers and catchers. The team’s report date was the latest in Major League Baseball, as several teams have been working out for a few days already. The first workout isn’t scheduled until Saturday, following physicals on Friday.

The late start was by design.

“Spring Training is long,” Bell said. “A big part of the challenge is to time it up and ramp up properly at the right time. There will still be a lot of thought of how that looks, the process of ramping up, so we’re ready to go for Game 1. There’s a lot less thought when you get here when we [did]. We don’t have to worry about pacing yourself. You just go. You’re in the moment. Your body will tell you what to do.”

Part of the thought process behind the shorter camp was to help the club get a better start to the regular season. Last year, the Reds opened with a 1-8 record.

“I don’t know if anyone has mastered Spring Training or exactly how to do this,” Bell said. “I will say that people put in a lot of thought into how that can look different. How can we get off to a good start? How can we play with the same readiness and intensity for Game 1 as 162?”

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.