Will Reds centerfielder Nick Senzel be ready for Opening Day?

Cincinnati Reds centerfielder Nick Senzel
Cincinnati Reds centerfielder Nick Senzel / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

There are two players in Reds spring training who the Cincinnati faithful are desperate to see succeed in 2023. One is Jose Barrero and the other is Nick Senzel.

Barrero has played well enough this spring to earn his way onto the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster. But he'll have to perform well during the first month-plus in order to stay with the big-league club.

Senzel, on the other hand, has been slowed by an injury that suffered near the end of last season. But reports are that the former first-round pick could return to the Cincinnati lineup early next week. Will the abbreviated spring training give Senzel enough time to get into game-shape?

Will Reds centerfielder Nick Senzel be ready for Opening Day?

I know there is a large contingent of Reds fans who are ready for the team to bid farwell to Nick Senzel. It's understandable given the lofty expectations that come with being a first-round draft pick and Senzel's lack of production since arriving in the major leauges.

But the Reds are being very patient with Senzel for a variety of reasons. At 27 years old, the University of Tennessee product is still very young. Senzel is under team control for two more seasons beyond 2023. And, at less than $2-million, his salary is extremely cheap regardless of how he performs this season.

Senzel has talent, let's not forget that. It's not as if the Reds were off their rocker taking him at No. 2 overall in 2016. There were multiple outlets that ranked Senzel among the Top 10 prospects in baseball prior to his debut in 2019.

It's been injuries, some of which are freakish in nature, that have slowed his progress. Senzel has ended three of his four major league seasons on the IL. Combine that with his essentially playing out of position, and you've got a recipe for what Reds Country has seen since his major league debut.

Nick Senzel is likely to return to the field next week. If he can prove that he's in game-shape, look for him to start Opening Day in center field. Given the depth of talent in Cincinnati's farm system, this feels like Senzel's last chance to prove that he's capable of handling the rigors of being the team's everyday centerfielder.

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