Nick Senzel Is Confident In Center Field
Nick Senzel was drafted as a third baseman and played the position exclusively in his first two pro seasons. The Reds looked at him at shortstop and second base in 2018, and now this year they are giving him a spin in center field at big league camp.
The 23-year-old said this year's position switch has been easier than last year's.
"I picked up center better than I picked up short," he said. "It made me feel a little more comfortable—(because I can) just go be athletic and go out there and try to use my speed and first step and track down balls."
The Reds had Senzel, the No. 2 overall pick out of Tennessee in 2016, work with former Gold Glove center fielder Eric Davis in instructional league, but surgery to clear out loose bodies in his left elbow kept him from playing in the Arizona Fall League.
The only sign of that injury this spring is the sleeve he wears on his left arm.
The Reds have said that Senzel could possibly make the Opening Day roster. New manager David Bell said he thought he had seen enough to know that Senzel could play center field, and Senzel agrees.
"Very confident," he said. "I have put in a lot of work. I’m continuing to get better every day. I think the more I get in games, the more comfortable I will be.”
One of the biggest changes has been to conditioning, because the outfield requires much more running than the infield.
While this is Senzel's second big league camp, it's the first where he feels like he actually belongs. He wore No. 79 a year ago and 15 this year. That number also affords him prime real estate in the Reds' spring complex, between catchers Curt Casali and Tucker Barnhart and just a couple of lockers down from Joey Votto.
"Just being around these guys every day and seeing how they go about things, how they prepare, talking to them, learning from them," Senzel said. "Even just simple conversations, that's who you're going to be playing with. We're all on the team trying for one goal, to win a World Series."
— Rule 5 pick Connor Joe played first base, second base and third base early in Cactus League games, but has been working behind the plate as a catcher during workouts.
— Righthander Jesus Reyes had six strikeouts over four innings in his first three appearances in Cactus League play without allowing a hit.