McCoy: Lorenzen sees ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ in return from injury

Cincinnati Reds' Michael Lorenzen throws against the Los Angeles Angels during the third inning of a spring training baseball game, Monday, March 15, 2021, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Cincinnati Reds' Michael Lorenzen throws against the Los Angeles Angels during the third inning of a spring training baseball game, Monday, March 15, 2021, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Credit: Matt York

Credit: Matt York

Michael Lorenzen watches Shohei Ohtani pitch and play the outfield for the Los Angeles Angels and wonders, “Why not me?”

To a lesser degree than Ohtani, Lorenzen did that for the Cincinnati Reds. Mostly he pitched in relief with an occasional appearance in the outfield as part of a double switch.

Right now, though, Lorenzen can do neither as he enters his third month of rehabilitation on his right shoulder.

Manager David Bell said it probably would be mid-July before Lorenzen returns, but Lorenzen is pushing for the end of June.

“I think he (Bell) is being ultra-conservative, which is fine, but that’s worst-case scenario,” said Lorenzen via Zoom from Goodyear, Arizona. “I’m personally intending to be hack by the end of this month. I’m not in total control of that.”

Bell also issued some news that Lorenzen dislikes — that when he returns he will work out of the bullpen.

When spring training began, Lorenzen was in the mix for a rotation spot. That’s what Ohtani does. And that’s what Lorenzen wants.

But he understands and agrees.

“If they stretched me out more (to be a starter), it would be more like mid-July,” he said. “Since that’s not the case, if it’s not the end of this month, it will be the first week of July.

Of him not slipping into the rotation, Lorenzen said, “It is not ideal, but there is no way of getting around it. That’s what we need and that’s the quickest way of getting me back on the field as fast as possible.

“I could sit around and sulk about it and think about everything that went wrong, or for me, the first thing that came up is that I’m going to be pitching in a major league baseball sooner.”

In the meantime, he does his daily rehab. He is scheduled to throw 120 feet on flat ground on Saturday and next week he’ll climb back on a mound for the first time.

“That light at the end of the tunnel was a little brighter when he told me that I would come back as a reliever,” he said. “So I’m focusing on that aspect rather than the negative side of things.”

And he watches and admires Ohtani, who has fought injuries while pitching and injuries while playing the outfield.

“It has been fun watching him, to finally see him go out there and do both, because he has been injured on one side of the ball or the other,” said Lorenzen.

“It’s been really fun to watch him do his thing,” he added. “People said he couldn’t do both and it’s just, ‘C’mon, the guy is an absolute stud.’ He is playing in my hometown, too, so I get a lot of messages from friends. It motivates me to get back even stronger.”

Speaking of studs, Lorenzen was in a workout room as he spoke, his massive, muscular guns displayed prominently.

“The guns are great, the guns are good,” he said. “There is a bunch of young ball players down here that work insanely hard. They are keeping me in check. They are all looking at me to outwork them. They are trying to make it to the big leagues. Seeing that drive and seeing that fire keeps me accountable.”

When he isn’t watching Ohtani, he is watching the fortunes and misfortunes of the Reds.

“It makes me feel terrible personally, to be honest, because I can’t do anything about it,” he said. “I want to help out. I think my role would help out tremendously if I was pitching. It’s not fun to watch and know there is nothing I can do to help.”

With his eyes on being a two-way player, Lorenzen is making it clear to Bell that he is doing more than working on pitching.

“I made sure to let David know that I’m starting to swing the bat, shagging some batting practice and running some bases,” he said. “Everything should be caught up by the time I get back.”

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