Reds news: Nick Senzel’s latest injury proves he belongs at second base

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 11: Nick Senzel #15 of the Cincinnati Reds in action. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 11: Nick Senzel #15 of the Cincinnati Reds in action. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Reds have a lot of talented infielders. So many, that several are playing out of position. Mike Moustakas, Eugenio Suarez, Nick Senzel, and Jonathan India are all third baseman by trade. It’s time to stop the “Nick Senzel is our everyday centerfielder experiment” before he incurs an injury that threatens his career.

Last night, Senzel banged into the outfield wall while chasing fly ball. The former first-round pick was forced out of the lineup and replaced by Shogo Akiyama. It was revealed that Senzel suffered a minor injury; a bruised heel. But, enough is enough.

Why do the Reds continue to play Nick Senzel in center field?

When Nick Senzel was drafted in 2016, the Reds had no idea they were going to dole out a multi-million dollar extension to Eugenio Suarez prior to the 2018 season. The Major League Baseball Draft is not like the NFL Draft – you take the best player available every time, regardless of need.

When it became apparent that Senzel had the makings of breaking into the major leagues sooner rather than later, the Cincinnati front office had a quandary on their hands. How to get Senzel’s bat into the everyday lineup.

It was decided that Senzel would become the Reds everyday centerfielder following the departure of Billy Hamilton. Keep in mind, as athletic as Senzel is, he’d never played a lick of time in the outfield throughout his collegiate or minor league career.

Regardless, the decision was made, and despite service time manipulation and an ankle injury, Senzel debuted in May of 2019 in the Reds’ outfield. His bat was good, especially for a rookie, and the fielding mistakes were minimal. This could work, right? Not exactly.

Toward the end of the 2019 season, Senzel suffered a shoulder injury after crashing into the outfield wall. The injury required surgery and the former No. 2 overall pick was shelved until just days before spring training was shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

Nick Senzel is not fragile, but he plays with reckless abandon.

Oftentimes, it’s been said that Nick Senzel is fragile, made of glass, or injury-prone. I don’t subscribe to any of that. While Senzel may have suffered through a myriad of injuries during the early-part of his career, none of those injuries have been nagging or due to poor conditioning.

Most of Senzel’s injuries have been due to the 25-year-old playing with reckless abandon on the baseball diamond. Senzel hustles down the line to first base every single time, goes all out for fly balls to the outfield, and has shown he’s willing to put himself at risk in order to make a defensive play.

I flat-out love Senzel’s hustle and determination, and you can’t ask him to tone it down; that’s what got him to the big leagues, and that’s what’s going to keep him there. That is, if David Bell and Cincinnati Reds management make the right decision to keep Senzel on the infield dirt.

In Joey Votto’s absence, Nick Senzel has received a handful of starts at second base and has shined with his glove on the infield. While Jonathan India has the potential to be a good fit there as well, he profiles better as a third baseman.

Next. India should be optioned to Triple-A

If the trio of Senzel, India, and José García are the future of the Reds infield, it’s time for the Cincinnati to abandon the idea of transforming the former University of Tennessee alum into an everyday centerfielder and keep him at second base where he belongs.