Homer-happy Reds reliever plans to keep same approach at the plate

July 02, 2018
CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 30: Michael Lorenzen #21 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a grand slam home run while pinch hitting in the seventh inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ball Park on June 30, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Cincinnati Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen still remembers his first grand slam. He was 10 or 11 years old, playing for the Orange County Bandits. He hit two home runs that day at Miles Square Regional Park in Fountain Valley, Calif.

Lorenzen also hit a grand slam in college at Cal State Fullerton and one in Double-A. However, hitting one at the big-league level, as he did Saturday against the Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ball Park, has to rise to the top of his growing list of hitting accomplishments.

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Lorenzen has made one of the most difficult things in sports — hitting a baseball — look easy in recent weeks. In his last five at-bats, he has singled, homered, walked, homered and homered. He explained his approach Monday before the start of a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox.

“What I’m doing is taking enough swings to keep my swing but not taking too many to where I start thinking, if that makes sense,” Lorenzen said. “It’s a tough balance to have, and I think that’s where I’ve benefited. I think it will benefit me with pitching, too, to take that same approach, to be honest.”

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Lorenzen has performed well on the mound. He’s 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 15 appearances and 23 1/3 innings. At the plate, he’s 4-for-6. He’s 3-for-4 as a pinch-hitter. He’s the first Reds pitcher to hit three home runs in a season since Micah Owings in 2009.

Lorenzen even has the hardest-hit ball by any Reds batter this season. His pinch-hit single on June 7 against Rockies pitcher Tyler Anderson came off the bat at 116.5 miles per hour.

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Lorenzen plans to keep the same approach, meaning he’s not going to take extra batting practice just because he might get more opportunities in the future.

“I’m learning a lot from the way I’m hitting,” Lorenzen said. “In college, it was the same. I was a center fielder, and pitching I didn’t care about. I just came in — and it’s kind of like the hitting side of things right now — there was no pressure. Just go in and throw the ball as hard as I can and get outs, and I was successful. When I was hitting in college, I was in the cage all day and all night, working hard and over-thinking. It’s kind of flipped on me at the major league level.”

Notes: The Reds acquired Red Sox minor league outfielder Lorenzo Cedrola in exchange for international signing bonus pool space on Monday. Cedrola, 20, was hitting .318 with Single-A Greenville.