If you still aren’t sold on the change brought by the new coaching staff, read these comments from Michael Lorenzen. Lorenzen and the staff have a plan for him to pitch, hit and play centerfield in spring training. Lorenzen was pleased with the effort this staff made to talk with him and work it out (Mark Sheldon reporting):

“It’s fantastic, the effort they’re putting in,” Lorenzen said. “[In the past] 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.

Here is Sheldon’s lead:

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.

Read the rest of Sheldon’s report, which has more quotes from Lorenzen.

Two weeks ago, Lorenzen said on national television that he’s “better in the outfield than anything I do on the baseball field. And I think no one knows that.”

I’ll confess to an irrational belief that Michael Lorenzen can hit and play outfield at the major league level. I know the odds are long. But watching him swing the bat and his athleticism often leaves me breathless. So I’m pulling hard for this to work out.

41 Responses

  1. matthew hendley

    ALright, I like to hear that, but don’t overplay the hand too much, still want those “its just a relief pitcher” fastballs when the opportunity to bat shows it self.

    • matthew hendley

      Defenate like using him where he can get regular AB. However he should not take actual at bats away from the current stock of position players during the season. Upon injuries or trades, then utilize him before bringing up the likes of Mason Williams again. It will be a balancing act.

  2. WVRedlegs

    This is what spring training is for, these kinds of experiments. It’ll be great if they can work it out. It will be harder to implement when the roster gets limited to 25 players. I too will be rooting for Lorenzen to make it work. Might be able to work out a weekly 6 game schedule with bullpen 1 day, available to pinch hit next 2 games, bullpen day, CF for 1 game, available to pinch hit, and then repeat. He will have to be fairly regimented in the bullpen to make it work.

  3. Oldtimer

    The most famous P who converted to OF because of his hitting skills was Babe Ruth.

    Lorenzen ain’t Ruth II but he can possibly wind up as OF more than P.

    • Colorado Red

      Don’t forget about Stan the Man Musial.
      (OK, not the Babe), but a really good hitter.

      • Steve Mancuso

        Stan Musial had 1815 hits at home and 1815 hits on the road.

      • TR

        What a hitter. Stan the Man and this unique batting stance with the bat held high. I remember, as a kid, reading that Ted Williams, Stan Musial and Joe DiMaggio would all make $75,000., tops in baseball for that season. How things have changed.

      • greenmtred

        Things have changed, one of them being the value of the dollar. That was a lot of money then. Stan was a great hitter.

  4. Choo Choo Coleman

    Rick Ankiel was not a bad OF, either…What is the downside? Seriously? They are baseball players. Why not let them play.

  5. Mark Moore

    Let’s see how it plays out. I’m just glad they are giving it a legitimate shot for a change. We all know he’s game to do it.

    Think of the situation where he pitches, goes to the OF for a LOOGY, and then comes back to pitch again.

    Ah … Spring Training is in the air!!!

  6. Steve Schoenbaechler

    I have no problem with this. At least, it opens up spots. For instance, I want to say it was when the Cubs won the WS. There was a key spot, I believe, where a former pitcher of ours, Travis Wood, was called on to pitch. But, then, with the next batter, Maddon wanted a different pitcher but didn’t want to take Wood out for the hitter after that. So, he sent Wood to the OF and brought in the other pitcher. After that batter, Maddon brought Wood back in to pitch.

    Since I can’t exactly remember it now (it went something like that), I can’t say it was a good or bad move. However, having that flexibility, I believe, is always good. You never know when you are going to need to do things like this.

    That’s one reason why I felt we should have always kept Leake and not Homer. Leake had similar numbers as Homer did, without the injuries. Leake also could hit, run, and thus, pinch hit and pinch run, and I felt, in a pinch, could possibly play some SS if needed. And, we kept Homer? It still boggles my mind, even before Homer’s latest injury.

  7. DrBagel

    I went back and read some scouting reports written of Lorenzen prior to the draft. Those evaluations thought very highly of his defensive ability, going as far as saying he had gold glove potential for center field. Lately, I’ve seen a lot of people be concerned about the Reds not having a true center fielder on the roster, but maybe they do have that guy. If he really is that good of a defender, and several years off haven’t affected him too much, I’d love to see him used as a late inning defensive replacement on days he isn’t pitching.

  8. Tom

    I do believe that it was on this same site that I argued to consider Lorenzen as CF at least part time. So glad this new staff is willing to experiment. All I can remember with the previous staff is hearing about what our young players COULDN’T DO. Lorenzen couldn’t start. Senzel can’t play SS (maybe the current staff thinks that too, don’t know). I’m so glad this staff is taking a fresh approach.

    Long, long overdue.

  9. Shchi Cossack

    Sheldon also references Lorenzen’s pithing preparation during ST.

    “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.”

    The current schedule just reflects Lorenzen’s ST preparation, but an expanded role could also be included for the regular season. I’m probably higher regarding Schebler’s and Senzel’s defensive capability in CF than most, but Lorenzen is almost certainly the best defensive CF on the roster. I can definitely envision a role where Lorenzen routinely throws multiple innings then moves to CF after completing his work on the mound.

    • ToBeDetermined

      Exactly.
      Works the 6th and 7th or 7th and 8th then goes to CF as defensive replacement. Doesn’t really matter how well he can hit.
      This is why your able to carry 1 less position player.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Did you see email from me today?

    • greenmtred

      Like many others, I’m sceptical of his ability to hit MLB pitching once he’s regarded as a hitter and pitched accordingly, but he’s an athlete, and it certainly is possible that he could prove to be a good hitter. He likely is the best defensive centerfielder on the roster right now, and if he gets a chance to play there situationally, it could make a team weakness less of a liability.

  10. Soto

    The most striking thing to me is Lorenzen’s comments about the current staff’s approach and ability to communicate, and how remarkably different it is from the past. That’s huge.

      • Roger Garrett

        I agree as well.Just have to remember we all are the same in that we can get along with anybody as long as we get our way.Lorenzen can help this team win ball games in other ways then as a reliever but personally I would have been more excited if they had agreed on him being stretched out to become a starter.Looks like that ship has sailed however so the Reds do realize he will make the 25 man roster and truly can run and hit.Go Reds

  11. Sliotar

    In 2018, Lorenzen had 6.00 K/9, 3.78 BB/9 last season in 81 IP. xFIP of 4.46.

    At age 27, he is basically meh, and expendable as a pitcher.

    Nothing wrong with trying to salvage something from such a talented athlete, though he is making $2 million this season. There are potential opportunity costs, if the experiment is pursued in the regular season with marginal results.

    More than a praise for the new coaches, it is an indictment of Castellini/Jocketty/Williams/Krall/Whoever Else for wasting the last 4 seasons.

    This experiment should have happened before now.

  12. Patrick Jeter

    I’d pay so much to see Puig and Lorenzen go back-to-back in some fashion.

  13. Buddy

    I haven’t seen it mentioned at all but I think when discussing possible scenarios it’s worthwhile to remember that Matt Kemp can play centerfield if needed. From ‘06 to ‘16 he played over 800 games there and the Dodgers shuffled him over a few times at least last season.
    No I’m not saying he should be the CF, but if Puig can be considered an option occasionally or Senzel, Lorenzen, so should Kemp who has more experience there than anyone. Just saying, depending on who gets hot / hurt etc..you could have Winker, Kemp and Puig starting the same game. Moot point, of course, if he gets traded, but with his contract I see that being more a deadline possibility than now.
    Anywho, i like that the coaching staff seems open to thinking outside of the box, the more so the better. Go crazy, Go Reds!

    • Doug Gray

      No. Matt Kemp can not play center field. He’s simply not close to fast enough anymore.

  14. Jreis

    When I read these articles about Lorenzen playing centerfield I get so emotional I almost shed a tear. For over 50 years this club was always able to develop great center fielders. All the way back to the Veda Pinson days. Now we have to rely on a pitcher to possibly play the position.
    I know the game has changed. There is more emphasis on power than speed. But good lord can’t we develop a player that is actually fast enough to play center AND can hit a little bit. Where have all the Eric Davis’s gone?

    • MrRed

      Where have all the Eric Davis’s gone? I think you’ve been around long enough to know that there was only one Eric Davis. With a healthier career, he’d be in the HOF. You just aren’t going to find players of that caliber often.

      • Amarillo

        Eric Davis has been personally tutoring Nick Senzel all winter. Seems like Senzel could be the next Eric Davis.

  15. Indy Red Man

    Duh? I’ve only been saying this for 4 years now!

    Bobby Knight talking with Portland’s GM about possibly drafting Michael Jordan with their #1 pick. Portland “But we need a center”. Knight “Then play him at center then” Is Lorenzen like Michael Jordan? Um….no but teams like the Reds need to be creative. The big money teams can do what they’ve always done, but thats not the answer for Cincinnati. Lorenzen pinch ran in his rookie and scored from 1st on a double. His time was 2nd fastest on the team besides Billy. That HR to honor his Dads passing was about 430 to right-center. Thats not normal? Turn the kid loose already? What do they have to lose? He’s a pretty decent pitcher and could be better if he’d stick with one delivery, but try to see what he can do?

    • Mason Red

      I agree with this totally. The Reds definitely don’t look outside the box. Use his talents to help the team WIN.

      • Indy Red Man

        At the minimum I think this signals the beginning of the end of the Reds old school mentality while everyone else turned to analytics years ago. Trying to bunt 3-4 times a game and give away outs to attempt to win 2-1 in GABP when your pitching staff is 29th in era?

  16. Michael Smith

    I like the outside the box thinking. My question is what happens if Senzel is more than equal to the challenge of CF? Where do the AB’s come for Lorenzen while playing in the outfield? Are we sitting Puig, Winker and Schebler so he can start some games? Or are they looking more at roster flexibility and thinking he is more of a defensive replacement? So many questions and it will be interesting to see how things turn out.

    • Cbus

      In that case Senzel starts in AAA learning CF and saving service time. Lorenzen/Schebler platoon in CF, Puig in RF everyday and Winker in LF most days with a little Matt Kemp sprinkled in. Senzel’s the first man up when any infielder or outfielder inevitably gets hurt.

  17. lost11found

    With the news that Gray is missing a start, this could change Lorenzens’ plans. If it is minor but causes SG to not get the need work in ST, then I would stretch Lorenzen out, and use him a few starts in April when the schedule isn’t so compressed. If he does well, it creates a logjam of sorts but one of a good kind.

  18. The Duke

    Lorenzen was a stud defensive CF at Fullerton and might be the fastest guy on the roster now, and we know he’s got plenty of arm strength. I’d love to see him used as a late inning pinch hitter and defensive replacement in CF as part of a double switch. Could have Lorenzen come into CF, Senzel move to 2B, and take Scooter out right after an at bat so we upgrade the defense at 2 positions.

    20/20 Hindsight, I kind of wish we would have developed him as a CF instead of a pitcher, but we had BHam at the time.

  19. KDJ

    The misuse of Lorenzen’s talents by former management have been disgusting and sad. It is like management had no idea what to do with him, so they did not do much of anything. He may not have all-star talent at any position, but he is an exceptional athlete with MLB talent at CF and P. Plus, he is extremely fast and seems to be a good team guy. He should be used a lot more than 81 innings in a year.

    • matthew hendley

      misuse of talent? 81 innings is roughly middle of the road for a middle RP that missed a month or so of the season. He was prioritized higher then some of the bench players last season in the PH role. He PH on his days of. Oh he wasn’t started? If he was then he would be thrown this thing that gets thrown at Position players, its called a Curveball. When he starts knocking pitches that are not dead red get me over Fastballs, then we can talk about starts. He deserves to PH, without a doubt. He scouted better as a Pitcher, is passible as a pitcher, but until Othani, the theory of a 2 way player was that. There is no misuse here.

      • Indy Red Man

        No misuse? Maybe he can’t hit a curve and you’re right. Or maybe you’re wrong? Why not DH him in 3 starts in an AL park and find out? What playoff spot have the Reds been fighting over these last few years?
        They were eliminated by college kids spring break last year. 2017 we started Deli boy Adleman, and the lollipop kid Arroyo, and Wojo and literally every other scrub they could sign. Why not start Lorenzen and see what he could do? Say he went 4 starts with 6 ip and 3 er while driving in a couple of runs in 4 starts. Thats a 3.75 era more or less. Say he’s on 2nd and scores on a single. Romano hits .00023 and couldn’t score from 2nd on a triple.

        Bottom line….if you have baseball players with talent and you don’t give them a chance while featuring talentless scrubs then thats misuse.

      • Matt Hendley

        Play him as a DH? Absolutely not. As far as starting, i remember when he got called up, and then destroyed repeatedly, until his arm forced a shutdown. When he was put back up, they put him in the BP to protect his innings. The bat is certainly better then pitcher average, but if we go to the well to many times then he will be figured out. Tim addelman was able to.lead the reds in IN Pitched. Arroyo at least knew when he was finished. If any of these pitchers had actually proved themselves…..like say scooter on the field they would actually be in the rotation and we wouldnt be having these conversations.

      • greenmtred

        I’ve got to agree with Indy here. We really don’t know what ML could do as a semi-regular hitter. It may well be that he can’t hit the curve (but they do throw those in college, don’t they?), but we don’t know. There hasn’t been anything to lose during the last few years, so finding out about him would have made sense. And actually still does.