CINCINNATI -- Reds rookie center fielder Nick Senzel already dealt with the reality that his season was prematurely over because of a torn labrum in his right shoulder. But now there is added bad news.
Senzel will need surgery to repair the injury and it’s scheduled for Tuesday with team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek. A timetable for recovery and a return to baseball wasn’t immediately known.
“Until he has it, I don't think we're going to know the exact timetable or exactly what the surgery entails,” Reds manager David Bell said on Saturday. “At this point I'm hopeful we have him back for Opening Day.”
The tear in Senzel’s shoulder was first learned on Sept. 12 while the Reds were playing in Seattle. The 24-year-old went to Los Angeles on Monday for a second opinion, and Dr. Neal ElAttrache confirmed Kremchek’s prognosis that surgery would be needed.
“It was kind of shocking that I’m getting it and something I have to have,” Senzel said.
The organization’s No. 1 prospect when he debuted in the big leagues on May 3, Senzel batted .256/.315/.427 with 12 homers and 42 RBIs in 104 games -- often from the leadoff spot. He was batting a season-high .285 on Aug. 2, when an adjustment was installed to his hitting approach had him struggling and his numbers plummeted.
Senzel batted .188/.242/.313 over his final 34 games.
“I thought there was a lot of learning moments,” Senzel said. “There was some adversity to the season, obviously, as a team and as an individual. It wasn’t up to my standard, not even close. But I thought I showed some signs of good things. I tried to make an adjustment in August. You look at it, stats-wise, it doesn’t reflect. I feel like I contributed to the club. It’s one of those things on paper. It was a learning experience. I can’t wait to rehab to get back out there and be ready to go, for sure.”
Some of the personal adversity for Senzel involved a litany of nagging injuries. Just after being a roster cut near the end of Spring Training, he suffered a right ankle sprain while sliding and opened Triple-A Louisville’s season on the injured list.
Senzel also missed a game after fouling a pitch off the area above his right eye on June 15 that required stitches, then sprained his right ankle again when he crashed into a wall attempting to make a catch on July 7. Senzel also was sidelined for non-baseball injuries that included migraine headaches and allergies. He missed significant time last season as well with vertigo and a fractured right index finger.
Among the positives for Senzel was how he impressed with his mature clubhouse presence. On the field, the natural infielder made the transition to playing regularly in center field, something that began in earnest during Spring Training.
“I think any time you can learn a new position -- I never played outfield -- and especially learn it at the big league level, I thought I handled myself pretty well out there,” Senzel said. “It’s kind of another notch on the belt, another position I can play if need be.”
The shoulder injury isn’t expected to force another position switch back to the infield. The Reds currently have an unsettled situation at second base, but they also don’t have a center fielder ready to step in to replace Senzel.
“Full recovery is expected,” Bell said. “It might be a couple of weeks shorter, or longer before he's back at full strength. I don't know if we can pinpoint the exact date, but as far as long-term recovery even for next season, full recovery is expected. He's young, he's strong, he's going to be fine.”
Illness impacting Reds roster
The Reds had six players unavailable for Saturday’s game vs. the Mets because of illness in second baseman Freddy Galvis, relief pitcher/center fielder Michael Lorenzen, infielder/outfielder Josh VanMeter and relievers Robert Stephenson, Kevin Gausman and Keury Mella. VanMeter was in the original starting lineup but was later scratched and replaced in left field by Phillip Ervin.
“They're all not here. We just have to put an end to it,” Bell said. “I was going to say almost everyone has had it at some point, a lot of guys have tried to play through it. They're all a little bit different but the best way to describe it is 'flu-like.'”
With expanded rosters in September, the Reds have had enough depth to get through while players missed time.
It’s believed that the issue started during last week’s West Coast road trip. Derek Dietrich was among the first to get sick in Seattle, and Joey Votto missed games at Arizona. Others missed games at the third stop in Chicago.
“I don't know if it started right around the off-day in Seattle. It just lasted the whole road trip,” Bell said.