With time off, Senzel's shoulder feeling right

Reds get creative with space at Great American Ball Park

July 3rd, 2020

CINCINNATI -- In terms of timing, Reds center fielder benefited greatly from Spring Training being halted and the 2020 season’s delay because of the pandemic. Senzel was still rehabilitating a surgically repaired right shoulder when camp was shut down in mid-March.

“If I’m being honest, there was probably no chance I was going to be ready for Opening Day [on March 26]. I was probably weeks away from that,” Senzel said on Friday, when the club held its first official workout at Great American Ball Park.

Senzel, who had surgery on Sept. 24 to repair a torn labrum, played only four spring games as the designated hitter before everything stopped. He was still on a modified throwing program that left him sore.

For most of the time away, Senzel was in Knoxville doing his rehab multiple times per week at the University of Tennessee.

“It finally feels like a normal shoulder,” Senzel said. “I can probably say it finally started to feel like a normal shoulder a month ago. It was really a long process with the shoulder. It’s really tough, but I made it through. I stayed positive, and now I’m ready to go.”

Even after the addition of Shogo Akiyama, Reds manager David Bell still views Senzel as the club’s center fielder.

“Nick's not going to be held back. We're not going to hold him back in any way,” Bell said. “We will allow him to ease into it at the center field position, for sure. That's where we see him playing going into this.”

Senzel, a former infielder, hasn’t had a conversation, yet, with Bell about his position and whether he could play other spots.

“There’s a DH now, obviously,” Senzel said. “There’s a lot of different matchups they can play with. I want to play center field. That’s what I want to do."

Another beneficiary of extra rehab time was third baseman Eugenio Suárez, who had right shoulder surgery on Jan. 28 to remove loose cartilage after a fall in the shallow end of his pool at home. With some easy swings, Suárez was frequently clearing the fences during his Friday batting practice session with Joey Votto, Mike Moustakas and Freddy Galvis. That’s a good sign for someone who was second in the Majors last season with 49 homers.

“Nick, [Eugenio], a couple of our pitchers -- this time off allowed them plenty of time to heal. So physically [and] medically speaking, they're 100 percent,” Bell said. “There are other aspects to that, just as far as getting back into the daily grind of camp and the season, that we're going to need to see them in.”

Making full use of GABP
Unlike the team’s Spring Training complex in Goodyear, Ariz., the Reds have only two fields to work on during the three-week summer camp. They have 35 players at Great American Ball Park and another 22 at Prasco Park in Mason, Ohio. At the big league park, the team is making use of the space it has.

“First of all, we’re using both clubhouses, the home and the visiting clubhouse,” Bell said. “We’re using both weight rooms, which is really important, because with the protocols [in] the weight room, it’s tough to get everyone through.”

Pitchers made use of both bullpens, and there are mounds available in the indoor batting cages should there be rain. On Friday, Luis Castillo, Michael Lorenzen, Trevor Bauer and Lucas Sims were among those in the visitors' bullpen.

The concourses and seating areas -- usually teeming with fans this time of year -- has been pressed into service as a work space.

“Straight up the aisle from our home dugout, the concourse opens up pretty nice and there’s good airflow,” Bell said. “So we’re going to create like an outdoor clubhouse up there with space to work out and a place to hang out and stay socially distant.

“There’s meeting space throughout the building. We’re still navigating through what that is going to look like just our meeting structure and format. … We can use the outdoor space, the stands, for meetings, also.”

Third-base coach J.R. House is in charge of scheduling, which involves keeping throwing and hitting groups smaller than usual and keeping players as distant as possible.

“Being efficient is something that's really important to us, being creative, and J.R. really hits on all of those,” Bell said. “He's definitely made us all better the way he thinks. He's very assertive, but he's thoughtful and creative at the same time. When we're coming into a situation like this, something none of us have ever taken on, I couldn't ask to have a better guy coordinating the whole camp, just maximizing our space and our time.”

Worth noting
• Moustakas, one of the Reds' free-agent acquisitions in the offseason, is normally a lefty hitter. But during BP, he took a right-handed swing and cleared the fence.

• All 57 players reported to Friday’s workouts at GABP and Prasco Park without issue. No players are being held back with injuries.