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Reds’ Lorenzen makes spring 2-way debut

@m_sheldon
March 11, 2019

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- For the first time since he was a college baseball star, Reds relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen got to experience the full spectrum of playing the two-way game on Monday. Against the Indians in a 5-5 tie, Lorenzen pitched the bottom of the fifth inning, batted in the

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- For the first time since he was a college baseball star, Reds relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen got to experience the full spectrum of playing the two-way game on Monday. Against the Indians in a 5-5 tie, Lorenzen pitched the bottom of the fifth inning, batted in the top of the sixth inning and played two innings in center field.

And he enjoyed every minute of it, especially since he had two balls hit his way after taking his spot in center field in the sixth inning. The first batter, Jose Ramirez, hit a ball off reliever Amir Garrett that bounced off the wall in right-center field. Lorenzen fielded it, and made a perfect throw to the cut-off man as Ramirez reached with an easy double.

“Perfect. Baseball, the game knows,” Lorenzen said of being put to work quickly. “It was funny because I was actually shaded to right-center and I ended up moving into left-center. And then that pitch, it was hit to right-center. I was kicking myself in the rear end because I could have had a chance if I was shaded over there. It was a good time. I got some -- not necessarily fly balls -- but got some balls hit to me. Hopefully next time I get to catch a fly ball and run one down.”

During the bottom of the seventh, Garrett had a runner on first base and one out when Oscar Mercado lined a single into left-center field. Lorenzen fielded it cleanly, but missed the cut-off man while trying to get Eric Stamets at third base. Stamets was safe and Mercado went to second base on the throw.

“I knew I had just pitched, and it’s Spring Training, so I’m not really going to try and gun him. It was a little in-between there,” Lorenzen said. “I’d rather err on the side of overdoing it, that’s my personality. It’s always tough to underdo for me. It was fun, I tried to throw it through the cut-off, just a little bit over.”

Batting in the top of the sixth, Lorenzen struck out against Indians pitcher Mike Clevinger. He fouled off a couple of two-strike pitches before fanning on strike three.

“I’m seeing the ball pretty well. I’m just a little late on fastballs, and a little early on breaking balls,” Lorenzen said. “Once we close that window, I think I will be all right.”

Back in the bottom of the fifth, Lorenzen pitched a perfect inning with a fly out by Ryan Flaherty, and a pair of strikeouts to Leonys Martin and Jason Kipnis. That was his fifth appearance on the mound this spring with the last four all being scoreless outings.

“I felt great out on the mound,” Lorenzen said. “Just attack mode, I was working on refining my breaking ball a little more. I tried to throw it. I didn’t think I threw it very well. The more [I throw it], I feel it’s going to sharpen up big time.”

Once finished pitching, Lorenzen didn’t have time to confer with pitching coach Derek Johnson like he normally would. He had to get ready to hit right away, and then be ready to head to the outfield. After he was done for the day, he broke down the pitching with Johnson, his outfield play with coach Jeff Pickler and his at-bat with hitting coach Turner Ward.

“It’s fun. It’s a team effort,” Lorenzen said. “I’m thankful for this staff, that they’re actually putting forth the effort to allow me to do these things.”

Ahead of being drafted solely as a pitcher by Cincinnati in 2013, Lorenzen was a center fielder and closer for Cal State Fullerton. He’s been lobbying the club for years for a chance to hit and play the outfield. His six career home runs made him a pinch-hitting threat, and gave the club the ability to keep him in games longer to hit for himself. The arrival of Shohei Ohtani to the Angels from Japan made it more realistic for a pitcher to play a position, as well. Lorenzen played one inning of right field on Aug. 13 vs. Cleveland, but did not pitch in that game.

Manager David Bell has signaled he would try Lorenzen in center field this spring, and allowed him to get reps with the other outfielders during drills. He liked how the first two-way foray went, and plans on there being a few more during camp.

“Great day. Number one, he pitched a great inning. It was just good for him to get out there,” Bell said. “Overall, just to have the experience of pitching, then staying in the game, I think that’s what we all wanted to see out of today. It was a good day for him.”

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.