Oft-Injured Reds Outfielder Won’t Be Ready For Opening Day (Surprised?)

It's become a very familiar refrain around the Cincinnati Reds over the past four years: Is Nick Senzel ready to go? The injury-plagued outfielder has yet to play more than 110 games in a season, or accumulate more than 375 at-bats.

He has yet to play any spring training games as he's coming off toe surgery this past winter, and the Reds have no plans to play him over the next week either, ruling him out for being ready for Opening Day. 

“He’s made tons of progress to get to where he is today,” Reds Manager David Bell told Bobby Nightengale of Cincinnati.com. “He just still hasn’t cleared all the hurdles at 100%. It feels a little rushed to get him into a game this week. Really, the only reason to do that would be to have him ready for Opening Day. Not yet is in it his best interest to do that.”

In Senzel's absence, Will Benson and TJ Friedl are the top candidates to start the year in center field. 

The 27-year-old Senzel has yet to find his stride in the majors, even when he has played. Once a top prospect in the game, he has a lifetime .240 average and .663 OPS. Last season, in 110 games, he hit just .231 with a .601 OPS; his OPS+ of 64 was 36% worse than the average hitter. 

To that end, Senzel made some changes to his batting stance late in 2022 and it seemed to be helping—until a broken toe cost him the last two weeks of the season and really didn't allow him to get into his normal offseason routine.

It remains to be seen if Senzel can finally start to come close to living up to his 2nd-overall draft selection (2016) this season. It won't, however, begin on Opening Day.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports