For the second straight year the Cincinnati Reds outfield is crowded, so to speak. Nick Senzel, Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winker, Nick Castellanos, and Aristides Aquino are all vying for playing time. With no designated hitter spot, at least as of the time of this article being published, David Bell’s job as manager is a little tougher than it was last season when he could utilize that spot to get more at-bats and playing time for everyone.
Nick Senzel has been the player that many have discussed as being a possible solution to getting more playing time opened up in the outfield. Senzel came up as a third baseman, gave shortstop a brief try, and then moved over to second base. Then, on the brink of being ready for the Major Leagues, he made the move to the outfield. All of those moves were because another player who had already been established in the big leagues was ahead of him with the exception of shortstop. Now Senzel has established himself as a strong defender in center field, but his past experience at second and third could potentially allow a few players to slide around on a given day to open up a spot in the outfield. That could even include a time or two where Eugenio Suárez slides to shortstop.
“We’re open to all of those things,” said Bell on Thursday. “I think there’s a lot of different things to look at – the comfort of the player, the consistency, maximizing our roster. For right now, with where we are in spring training, we’re going to allow everyone to get comfortable, get acclimated, get back into it and see where they are. Maybe nothing changes. Maybe we determine the best thing to do, for the most part, that consistency might be more important. The way Nick Senzel looks in the outfield, if we ever did consider moving him into the infield, we’d be missing a lot in the outfield. He’s really turned himself into a very skilled outfielder with really elite speed, athleticism. There’s a lot to consider. I do think we’re in a good place because we do have guys that can play multiple positions and we’ve done that over the course of the last couple of years, so we can’t be afraid to do that. It’s going to help us win, so it’s just balancing all of that.”
Bell said that Nick Senzel was the every day center fielder, but back tracked on the term “every day” just a little bit. The full set of quotes are important, though, when he was asked if he considered Senzel his every day center fielder.
“Yeah,” Bell said. “You look at who Nick Senzel is, and we know the talent, we know the ability. I’m excited, we’re all excited to see Nick consistently play over the course of a long season, stay healthy, get some breaks to be able to stay on the field for a whole year because we haven’t been able see that, he hasn’t been able to experience or enjoy playing that way – not concerned with health and all that. It’ll be fun to see. Nick, we believe is an every day player in this league, for sure, and right now he’s our every day center fielder.”
“So when I say starter or everyday center fielder when referring to Nick, my job is to get at least four outfielders regular playing time,” Bell expanded on when asked about Shogo Akiyama then being a left fielder. “Shogo’s going to factor into that heavily. We know what kind of player he is – we’ve talked a lot about that. He needs to be playing. Every day doesn’t necessarily mean every single day. There’s off days mixed in, there’s things that come up, there’s match ups to consider. At one point every day might have meant 162 games, but that’s not really what I mean when I say every day. We have at least four outfielders who need to play a lot, and Shogo’s one of those guys.”
Luis Castillo’s late arrival won’t effect his start time
The Reds didn’t have a full work out on time this spring as a few players were late arrivals, through no fault of their own, and one of those players happened to be Luis Castillo. As a pitcher, timing matters when it comes to being ready to open up the regular season. Spring is built around getting a guy ready for when the season begins – schedules, ramping up work loads, etc.
Castillo is going to be ready to begin the year on time, according to manager David Bell. The regular season, at least. There’s a chance he could be slightly behind the expected plan in spring training had he been able to arrive to camp on time.
“In the long term, no,” said Bell. “In the long term it won’t impact his readiness for the beginning of the season. But the plan to get there may be a day or two different than it would have been. He looks great, too. He was a couple days late, but physically he looks really good. Better than he did last year, good shape.”
While the St. Louis Cardinals announced that Jack Flaherty would start on Opening Day against the Reds, Bell said that he wasn’t ready to make the announcement for his team just yet. Part of that is due to the fact that Castillo was a late arrival and he and Sonny Gray are both in the conversation for the job. He did note, though, that getting the rotation lined up for the season was more important than who specifically goes on Opening Day.