By Hal McCoy
Michael Lorenzen is in a place no pitcher wants to be, in a highly-paid spectator’s seat.
Lorenzen and his strained right shoulder suffered a severe setback this week than plopped him onto the 60-day injured list.
That means Cincinnatei Reds fans won’t see the muscular righthander put his spikes on a pitching rubber until June.
To hopefully speed the recover, Lorenzen was injected with PRP (platelet-rich plasma) earlier this week.
—And there was other dishearning news on the injury front. Outfielder Aristides Aquino underwent surgery Friday to remove the hook from his left hamate on his hand. To take his place, the Reds recalled Max Schrock from the alternate training site.
—With Sonny Gray returning to the rotation this weekend, there had to be a removal from the rotation and the unlucky choice was Jose De Leon, who was placed in the bullpen.
For Lorenzen it has been a step back followed by another step back since spring training. Everything looked and felt good until early this week when he tried to throw in the bullpen.
“It has been a major bummer, for sure,” he said. “I was feeling great, the best I felt the day before I was scheduled for a bullpen session.
“I threw the bullpen the next day and I didn’t feel great, the only day I didn’t feel great,” he added. “I threw a ‘pen for like 50 per cent effort, just to get the feel for the mound and I couldn’t finish it.”
Lorenzen thought, and hoped, it was just an off day, “And I’ll give the night and tomorrow I’ll feel better. They wanted another MRI and I figured Dr. (Tim) Kremchek would say, ‘Hey, it’s getting better, it will just take a little more time.’”
But that isn’t what he said. Instead it was the last thing Lorenzen wanted to hear. “He said it has gotten worse somehow.” So they used the PRP and plan to be cautious, “And it was a major surprise to me and a major blow to me.
In the meantime, what will Lorenzen do?
“I’ll be clinging to a lot of things, doing a lot of investing and I may became a day-trader,” he said with a laugh.
Actually, he’ll be eagle-eyeing the guys in the rotation, to which he plans to make a return. And he is focusing on Wade Miley.
“I’m seeing a lot of good things,” he said “One guy who has fired me up the most, having conversations with him,is Wade. I know that he has gone through some injury stuff and made some adjustments in his mechanics to change that.
“Something clicked for him in talking with him pre-season, so I was excited to watch him throw,” said Lorenzen. “He has gone out there and done and I’m thinking, ‘I know that feeling when I’ve been totally off and something clicked.’ Then I felt, ‘I’m back, I’m rolling.’”
Lorenzen won’t be back until at least June and he can only be optimistic that something will click and he’ll get rolling.”
—De Leon was not down-and-out over his re-assignment to the bullpen after making two starts.
“The toughest part of being a reliever is getting ready during a game,” he said. “When to start stretching, how quick to do your throwing program. . .and that is something I am learning on the fly and will pick up pretty quick.”
De Leon welcomes the bullpen because he feels he can more easily make adjustments to his pitches.
“Definitely will help, because I’ll get shorter stints and pitch more often,” he said. “It is like throwing bullpens between starts. Instead of waiting five days to pitch,through trial and error you get to do it more often.
“For me, one of the keys is going to be how my arm reacts,” he said. “I have to teach my arm to respond quicker. Throwing less innings puts less stress on your arm and your arm recovers faster.”
And because the bullpen so far has had more downs than ups, it needs help. A quick adjustment by De Leon could give the Reds a major upgrade.