Cincinnati Reds: Depth overshadows Nick Senzel’s injury

Reds outfielder Nick Senzel’s injury appears very minor.

Nick Senzel is dealing with a minor injury that has kept him off the field the past few days. The Cincinnati Reds coaching staff is being cautious, as there’s no need to rush Senzel back to the field. In a shortened-season, the argument could be made that the Reds will need all hands on deck. While that is of great benefit, the team’s depth gives David Bell some wiggle room.

It was reported yesterday that Nick Senzel suffered a hyper-extended left elbow and the Reds centerfielder is day-to-day. Now, I’m going to put the brakes on any conversation surrounding Senzel being “injury-prone”. Just stop. Even David Bell said yesterday there’s no long-term concerns and had it been the regular season, it’s likely Senzel would be back in the lineup already.

Now, the good thing about Senzel’s injury, in terms of the team, is that it reveals Cincinnati’s depth across the board. While I expect Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama to play all over the outfield, the 31-year-old has plenty of experience in center field.

We’ve spoken ad nauseam about the Reds outfield depth. So much so, that Cincinnati’s starting outfield on Opening Day may have more to do with who the Detroit Tigers send to the mound rather than which three players performed best during summer camp.

Rest assured, if healthy, Akiyama and Nick Castellanos are virtual locks to be in the Reds Opening Day lineup and regulars throughout the entire season. The remainder of the outfielders on the roster may be slotted differently each and every day depending on matchups.

Senzel, Phillip Ervin and Jesse Winker will be part of the Reds everyday lineup, whether they’re playing the field or assigned as the team’s designated hitter. Outfielders like Aristides Aquino, Mark Payton and Travis Jankowski will also have opportunities for increased playing time, though it’s likely to be more situational.

Even the infield has depth. Kyle Farmer has impressed the coaching staff this spring and summer, so look for the former Los Angeles Dodgers’ catcher to see plenty of time on the infield dirt. Though I don’t expect top shortstop prospect José García to find the field this season, it’s an intriguing option if Freddy Galvis gets injured.

Josh VanMeter is perfectly suited for the role of utility player this season. After making his MLB debut last year, VanMeter displayed power from the left side and a defensive versatility that will enable him to play first and second base as well as the outfield. If Matt Davidson sneaks onto the Reds roster, he offers depth at both first and third base.

Even the starting rotation is deep. While Reds Country doesn’t want to see the likes of Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray or Trevor Bauer miss a start, waiting in the wings are Tyler Mahle and Lucas Sims. Those two right-handers combined for 29 starts last season.

Next: Predicting the Reds roster 2.0

Nick Senzel is likely to return to the field this week, and I expect him to be a key player in the Cincinnati Reds pursuit of the postseason. However, if he, or any other member of the starting lineup is unavailable for a stretch, this team has the depth to survive.

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