Cincinnati Reds: Should Nick Senzel return to the infield?

MIAMI, FLORIDA - AUGUST 27: Nick Senzel #15 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a RBI single in the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 27, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - AUGUST 27: Nick Senzel #15 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a RBI single in the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 27, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The Cincinnati Reds announced yesterday that Nick Senzel will undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum. Will this surgery result in a return to the infield?

Unfortunately for Cincinnati Reds rookie Nick Senzel, his torn labrum will require surgery. While it’s not yet known how long Senzel’s recovery will take, David Bell hopes to have Senzel available for Opening Day. Does Senzel’s latest bout with the injury bug necessitate a return to the infield?

Senzel entered Goodyear, Arizona competing with Scott Schebler for the starting spot in center field after the Reds non-tendered Billy Hamilton last November. While Schebler won the job out of Spring Training, his struggles led the Reds to bring up Senzel fairy quickly.

An infielder throughout his entire college and professional career, Senzel made the transition to center field and debuted for the Cincinnati Reds on May 3rd. While not as impactful out of the gates as Aristides Aquino, Senzel held his own at the major league level and slashed .279/.347/.468 in his first month of big league action.

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Beyond just the first month, Senzel’s bat was about what everyone expected through the All-Star break. Even up until the end of July, Senzel was hitting .285 with an OPS of .821, 8 home runs and 30 RBIs. He had supplanted Jesse Winker as the Reds leadoff batter and seemed to be meeting the lofty expectations that come with being the No. 2 overall pick.

The month of August was not as kind to Senzel. The 24-year-old attempted to make a change to his swing that didn’t offer many positive results. His batting average during the month was just .184 and Senzel had just five extra bases hits in 108 plate appearances.

Senzel hadn’t seen action in a game since September 7th, and it was announced last week that the rookie was being shut down for the season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder. It was revealed yesterday that the shoulder will now require surgery which is scheduled for Tuesday with the Reds medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek.

The latest news has several fans grumbling about Senzel being injury prone. I don’t see that at all. Yes, he’s had his fair share a fluke injuries over the past year. Senzel suffered a sprained ankle before the season, missed a game after fouling a pitch off his right eye, and then sprained his ankle again crashing into a wall.

While Senzel faced a lot of adversity in his first major league season, there was a lot of positives to take away as well. He looks to be very much in the mix, if not a lock, to be the Reds leadoff hitter next season. Bell, spoke with about the outlook for Senzel’s recovery:

“Full recovery is expected. It might be a couple of weeks shorter, or longer before he’s back at full strength. I don’t know if we can pinpoint the exact date, but as far as long-term recovery even for next season, full recovery is expected. He’s young, he’s strong, he’s going to be fine.”

Heading into next season, the Reds have a choice to make. Do they move Senzel back to the infield or should he stay in center field? With second base being essentially up for grabs, Senzel could easily take over at that position. However, the Reds do not have a suitable replacement in center field currently on the roster.

I’d love to see the Reds pursue a center fielder via trade this offseason with Ender Inciarte being my first choice. Having Inciarte’s glove in center field with Senzel playing second base would be a great move by the front office.

Inciarte is a career .286 hitter with three Gold Gloves. Though he’s having a down year, Inciarte possesses a great deal of speed and has a career-OBP of .338. Inciarte is also under contract for two more seasons, and with Ronald Acuna Jr. possessing a stranglehold on the center field position for the Atlanta Braves, Inciarte would be expendable.

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We’ll see how the offseason unfolds, but with Scooter Gennett no longer being on the Cincinnati Reds roster, moving Nick Senzel to second base seems like a very realistic option. This will, no doubt, be a point of discussion throughout the offseason.