Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen will play some center field in spring training

Following Shohei Ohtani's breakthrough 2018 season, it appears the era of the two-way player is upon us. The Rays are trying to develop multiple prospects, including 2017 first-rounder Brendan McKay, into two-way players, and the Rangers will use Matt Davidson both ways this spring. A player who can hit and pitch provides the ultimate flexibility.

The Reds, in an effort to develop their own two-way player, will use righty reliever Michael Lorenzen in center field this spring, rookie skipper David Bell told Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer earlier this week. From Nightengale:

"I do think that will happen in a game pretty early, when we transition him into playing some outfield during the games," Bell said. "Pretty early on, he may pitch an inning or two and keep him in the game, even if it's just for an inning or two, just to do it." 

Bell and the coaching staff met with Lorenzen to devise a plan after pitchers and catchers reported to Goodyear last week. There was input from trainer Steve Baumann, strength coach Sean Marohn, outfield coach Jeff Pickler, hitting coach Turner Ward and, of course, Lorenzen.

"On days we identify as kind of the good day based on his pitching build-up, we'll focus more on hitting and getting more work in the outfield," Bell said. "We all feel better about having it planned out. If there's not a plan, he might end up doing more and more and more. We can always adjust it."

Lorenzen, 27, had a solid season out of the bullpen last year, throwing 81 innings with a 3.11 ERA and 54 strikeouts. The Reds will try him as a two-way player because he mashed last season, going 9 for 31 (.290) with four home runs. That includes three home runs in the span of a week in late June, capped off by a grand slam.

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Lorenzen is a career .250 hitter with six home runs in 92 plate appearances. He played both ways in college and was quite the performer, hitting .324/.394/.478 in three years at Cal State Fullerton while posting a 1.61 ERA on the mound. Lorenzen is a great athlete and has a bit of a track record with the bat, so why not try it? Spring training is the time to experiment.

Should things go well this spring, Lorenzen figures to continue in his usual setup role out of the bullpen while also seeing action in center when the Reds get in a bind with a short bench, or simply prefer to keep his bat in the lineup after he's done on the mound. A reliever who could also play some outfield would make for nifty use of a roster spot.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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