Lorenzen travels long road back from injured list

Reliever should make his big-league season debut this weekend after four rehab appearances

Michael Lorenzen knows what it’s like to be a fan of the Cincinnati Reds. He still felt like a fan Friday as he returned a season-long stint on the injured list.

“It’s been fun to watch,” said Lorenzen, who suffered a right shoulder strain in March. “It hasn’t been one person doing it. It’s been everyone picking each other up.”

Lorenzen, who was 3-1 with a 4.28 ERA in 18 appearances last season, suffered a strained right shoulder in March and started the season on the injured list. He moved to the 60-day injured list in mid-April.

Lorenzen was also injured at the start of the 2018 season and didn’t pitch for the Reds until May 23.

“I’ve been down the road before, and I knew it was going to be a long road,” he said, “so I just kind of turned it into a challenge with myself. How quickly I can get back became the game within the game to keep me motivated to show up and get better and get healthy. It was a long road back, and it feels great to be back.”

A weekend series at Great American Ball Park against the first-place Milwaukee Brewers (53-39) gives the Reds (48-42) a chance to cut into a four-game deficit in the National League Central Division.

Lorenzen watched from a distance as the Reds won their last three games on the road against the Brewers before the All-Star break.

“It’s pretty awesome to just come right in and be a part of this,” Lorenzen said. “I’ve been watching some games, and some of the games I can’t watch because I’m texting DJ (pitching coach Derek Johnson) and (manager) David (Bell), and doctors and PTs (physical therapists) about getting me back right now and trying to fight to get back.”

Lorenzen threw a scoreless inning Wednesday in his final rehab appearance for the Triple-A Louisville Bats. He did not allow a run in four rehab appearances.

“I felt great,” Lorenzen said. “My first live BP, I was absolutely terrible mechanically. I was working on some stuff, and it was actually exactly what I needed because it was so bad. It was like, ‘What are you doing? You know what you need to do.’ It was almost like if it was a little bit better, I would have kept doing those things and I still wouldn’t be wouldn’t be comfortable today. I’m really happy with my stuff. I’m sleeping good at night knowing that I have my ace stuff and I’m ready to show up and just attack hitters with it plug right into this bullpen.”

Lorenzen returns to a bullpen that just lost Art Warren to the injured list Thursday. He was sidelined by a left oblique strain. Warren was 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in 18 games. He last pitched Sunday in a 3-1 victory against the Brewers, throwing a scoreless third of an inning.

Lorenzen also joins a much-improved bullpen that has the third-best ERA (3.21) in the last 30 days.

“He worked really hard to get back as quick as he could,” Bell said. “It was longer than any of us wanted to be without him. It will be nice to add him into the mix in a bullpen that’s been doing a great job.”

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