Gray's green light; 'zero setbacks' for Shogo

Lorenzen's (shoulder) return timeline uncertain

April 11th, 2021

For two of the three frontline Reds players currently on the 10-day injured list, Sunday's news appeared promising; the situation seemed much less clear for the third.

Outfielder Shogo Akiyama (left hamstring) has spent the past week at Louisville at the alternate training site.

“He’s progressing really well,” Reds manager David Bell said. “I just got out of a medical meeting. We’re going to get a calendar sent to me today with the exact timeframe of what we can expect for Shogo if he continues to progress the way he is, which is really all positive. Zero setbacks.”

Starting pitcher Sonny Gray (mid-back muscle strain) came out of Saturday’s simulated game OK and still felt good Sunday morning. Gray appears poised to rejoin the Reds' rotation and make his first regular-season start.

“Everything was positive today as well,” Bell said. “We’ve got to figure out exactly what it looks like, but I would anticipate him making a start at the end of the week.”

There hasn’t been much in the way of an update for the status of starting pitcher Michael Lorenzen (right shoulder strain). Since Spring Training, Lorenzen had what was described as a small setback, while he also experienced flu-like symptoms.

“We’re going to know more when we get back on Friday,” Bell said. “I was texting with him [Saturday] and I’m going to sit down with him -- I think we all are -- just to get a better sense for where he is. I know it’s not going as fast as he would like. I don’t exactly know what that means, but I know this week he’s spent a little time with the doctor to try and get a plan in place to see exactly where he is. I’d feel better after sitting down with him on Friday and maybe giving an update more when we get to Cincinnati.”

Checking the radar
Reds lefty reliever Sean Doolittle likes to view the ballpark radar reading after each of his pitches. Lately, Doolittle likes what he’s been seeing -- especially since his velocity was way down in 2020. According to Statcast, he averaged 93.9 mph on his four-seam fastball Monday vs. the Pirates and topped out at 95.6 mph.

“This year, I feel much more confident and I feel like my old self,” Doolittle said Sunday. “It’s been a while since I felt like this. It’s been a lot of fun coming to the yard, continuing to work on it every day and excited to see how good we can actually get it.”

On Friday vs. Arizona, Doolittle threw 12 pitches, all of which were fastballs with a 93.4 mph average, including a top speed of 95 mph.

“That was pretty cool,” Doolittle said. “I look up to give myself feedback to know where I’m at. If there’s a day where I’m on the low end and I’m 92, 93, that’s a day where I really have to throttle back and focus on location a little bit more. If it’s a day I do have that 95 or 96, then I do have a little bit of room for error and I can be a little more aggressive in the zone.

“I do like getting that feedback, but it’s also been fun this year to peek back at the radar gun and see 95 and 96 again. It had been a while since I’d seen that. I had it in the playoffs in '19, but there was a long time in '19 where I wasn’t quiet at that point. All the work we did this offseason -- I talked about that a lot and how much I think it helped, and helped me mentally as well. It’s been fun to see the results.”

Quick pace
Tucker Barnhart has gotten the majority of starts at catcher to begin the year, but rookie Tyler Stephenson started vs. Arizona on Sunday. Monday's starting pitcher Wade Miley likes to work with both catchers and threw six scoreless innings while allowing two hits with Barnhart behind the plate in Tuesday’s 14-1 win over the Pirates.

“You get into grooves with guys and it is what it is. But we got two really good catchers on our staff right now, and I’ve been fortunate to throw to both of them and they get me,” Miley said. “I do things a little quirky, but they understand it, they get it. I’d throw seven changeups in a row and they just stay with me.”

Miley is known for a brisk pace and not wasting time between pitches. The game length Tuesday was two hours, 35 minutes.

“I think Tucker was calling timeout a couple times the other night,” Miley said. “I thought it was the hitter and I was kind of getting frustrated. And then I got back to the dugout, and Tucker said, 'It was me calling the timeout,' because he was a little tired. But I don’t feel like I work that fast.”