GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds management clearly doesn’t view pitcher Michael Lorenzen's ability to be a two-way player as a novelty. The plan for Lorenzen that was in place became reality on Thursday.
On the Reds' Spring Training schedule posted in the clubhouse, Lorenzen was grouped with the outfielders to take batting practice. In past camps, hitting was often considered extra work for Lorenzen after he finished his usual workout with the pitchers. But that was then, and this is now.
“We've put together a plan for the whole spring, knowing we can adjust it at any time,” Reds manager David Bell said. “We didn't want to go into each day not knowing what he's going to do. We all felt better, he did, too. He was part of putting it together.”
On the pitching side, the Reds plan to build up Lorenzen’s innings this spring, so he can be stretched out enough to either start -- if needed -- or work multiple innings as a reliever. Once that’s accomplished, the club plans to give him more opportunities to hit and play in the outfield.
Bell expects Lorenzen to play in center field when he plays a position.
Lorenzen, 27, was 4-2 with a 3.11 ERA in 45 games (three starts) in 2018. As a hitter, he batted .290 in 54 games last season and led all pitchers with four home runs (two as a pinch-hitter). He was thrilled with the Reds’ approach to his unique skill set.
“It’s fantastic, the effort they’re putting in,” Lorenzen said. “A lot of the excuses were, 'You know, we don’t want to overwork him.’ Well, let’s just sit down and talk about it then. They were willing to sit down and talk about it, which is one of the reasons why I love this staff so much and why I think the front office did a great job [hiring] this staff. They’re willing to find solutions for problems.”
It took a lot to coordinate everything, and it involved hitting coach Turner Ward, pitching coach Derek Johnson, outfield coach Jeff Pickler, head trainer Steve Baumann, strength coach Sean Marohn, along with others on the Reds' staff.
Having the plan also prevents Lorenzen from trying to do too much or wearing himself out.
“When everyone is on the same page, it’s beneficial for everyone,” Lorenzen said. “It’s not, ‘Where’s Lorenzen? Where’s he at?’ I’m not feeling like I’m doing anything I’m not supposed to. We have the plan laid out. Everyone knows what I’m doing. When I need my rest, I will take my rest because I’m getting the work I need to get in, vs. me going out and getting extra work in all the time and wearing on my body.”
Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani comes to mind as the premiere two-way player, but Bell is trying to be careful and contain similar excitement about Lorenzen.
“I have to slow myself down, because I think it's cool that he's preparing himself the way he is,” Bell said. “This schedule we've made out helps me so we don't get ahead of ourselves and do what's best for him. But it's very unique and pretty special that he can do it. I love his approach to it. He's truly preparing himself to give as many options to our team to help us win. It's nice.”
Rain moves workout indoors
Steady showers in Arizona prompted the Reds to move Thursday’s workouts to the indoor batting cages. Coach and Spring Training scheduler J.R. House already had an alternate plan in place because of the forecast.
“We’re still going to get a lot done. Sometimes you can use these days to your advantage, so that’s what we’re trying to do,” Bell said. “I know it’s super early, but there’s always some benefit to mixing it up a little bit. Especially out here, there’s not usually rain. It’s a little bit of a breather, but you can sometimes get even better work in in other areas that you wouldn’t have the energy for, whether it’s in the weight room or talking a little bit more.”