We are still a ways away from seeing Michael Lorenzen actually return to the mound in a Cincinnati Reds uniform. But when Lorenzen does return the plan is to have the right-handed pitcher come out of the bullpen. That was not originally the plan when he went down, and that wasn’t the plan when he headed into spring training, either.
Plans change, of course, and with Lorenzen’s injury it could be a multitude of things that led to it. The rotation doesn’t need nearly as much help right now as the bullpen does. Of course, that could change by the time that he’s ready to return, too.
“Maybe it’s an All-Star break thing for him,” manager David Bell said. “He will come back as a reliever. So he’s not going to have to build up as a starter so I think we can get him back quicker that way.”
Not having to build him up as a starting pitcher might actually mean getting him back into the big leagues several weeks sooner, and if the All-Star break is kind of the “target” timeframe as a reliever, that would probably mean not getting him back as a starter until August at some point. Or perhaps the bullpen thing is just entirely the right move because that’s where he has a better chance to remain healthy moving forward.
For years we’ve seen Michael Lorenzen lobby to try and get back into the starting rotation. After his rookie year where he struggled as a starter the team moved him into the bullpen and in that relief role he found plenty of success over the years. But he’s always wanted to start and he’s not been given many opportunities to do so. Late in 2020 he did get a chance to make a few starts and that helped lead to him getting a chance to come into spring training in 2021 to pitch for a job in the rotation. He looked like he was going to land one of those spots before the injury took him out of the running for April, but early on the plan was still to get him back in the rotation but his arm wasn’t rebounding the way he and the team had hoped and the timeline for return began to seem further and further out. Now we’re in June and still seemingly six or seven weeks away from his return from what was originally thought to be something that would keep him off of the mound for a week or two.