Reds outfielder Nick Senzel is likely to open the 2023 campaign on the injured list, reports Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The former second overall pick has been delayed this spring after an offseason spent recovering from toe surgery.
Nightengale notes that while there hasn’t been any setback, the Reds are taking things cautiously in Senzel’s ramp-up. He has yet to get into a Spring Training game and isn’t expected to log any exhibition action this week either. Senzel has been taking at-bats in simulated games at Reds’ camp but he’s yet to progress to full speed running or defensive work.
Senzel spent most of the offseason in a walking boot. He’d initially fractured a toe on his left foot last September when he collided with a wall trying to track down a fly ball. The initial expectation was that the issue would resolve itself via rehab. That proved not to be the case, and Senzel underwent surgery in mid-November. The club indicated at the time he was likely to be ready for the start of Spring Training, though he’s apparently progressed a little slower from the surgery than initially anticipated.
Still, it doesn’t appear as though the Reds are anticipating the absence dragging too deep into meaningful games. Assuming Senzel starts the season on the IL, they’ll have a number of outfield options who could take on some extra at-bats in the early going. TJ Friedl, Will Benson and Stuart Fairchild are all capable of manning center field and could battle for reps. That’s also true of rookie Michael Siani, who got into his first nine MLB games late last season after Senzel first went down. Cincinnati optioned Siani to Triple-A Louisville yesterday, though, so it doesn’t seem he’s in consideration for an Opening Day roster spot.
Once he’s able to return to action, Senzel figures to assume the regular center field role. It’s something of a make-or-break season for the Tennessee product, who carries a career .240/.303/.360 line in parts of four big leagues campaigns. Senzel reached arbitration for the first time this offseason and is controllable via that process through 2025.