CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 06: Michael Lorenzen #21 of the Cincinnati Reds is congratulated by Billy Hamilton #6 after hitting a solo home run to break a tie in the sixth inning of the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Great American Ball Park on April 6, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Photo: Staff Writer
Photo: Staff Writer

Reds pitcher making strides with help from teammate

That’s where fellow pitcher Michael Lorenzen enters the picture.

Lorenzen’s locker is a few feet from Reed’s and the two talk a lot. It appears Lorenzen has been able to turn the light switch on for Reed, who does not want to be remembered as the guy the Reds got for Johnny Cueto who didn’t produce.

“I never would have guessed,” Reed said, referring toLorenzen. “I love the way he plays. I love the way he thinks. He could give up nine runs in one inning or he could strike out nine in 27 pitches. You would never tell the difference the next day.

“I just listened to what he thinks about me. He looked at me and said, ‘How many left-handers are there that throw 95-96 with a slider like yours?’ I sat there for a second. He said, ‘No one. So what are you doing feeling sorry for yourself.’

“I was being bitter about everything. He got me off that.”

Lorenzen and Reed showed up in Goodyear in early January and worked on a throwing program together.

“It raised my confidence without me even knowing it,” Reed said. “We’ve been here playing catch and throwing bullpens. He would tell me that I had life on my fastball and he couldn’t see it until it got on top of him, little things like that to help me build confidence.”

Reed was frustrated by a lack of command. He experimented with different grips but his focus was more on the cerebral part of the game.

“I changed a lot about my mental aspects,” Reed said. “It wasn’t just baseball. It is life itself.”

However it occurred, Reed’s improvement has been noticeable to Reds manager Bryan Price.

“It is not just the way he threw off the mound,” Price said. “Every thing from his PFP (pitchers’ fielding practice) to his bunting. It is unusual to say something after a few days of workouts. Every facet of his game looks like it’s been enhanced over the course of the last four or five months.

“Cody Reed has been above and beyond where he finished the season last year.”

Reed, 24, one of four pitchers obtained from the Royals for Cueto in July 2105, is competing for a spot in the bullpen. Price left him off the list of four contenders for the fifth spot in the starting rotation but said the organization still views him as a starter.

“We won’t have enough innings for a lot of guys this spring,” Price said. “If he makes our team, he could help us more out of the bullpen. We don’t want him to be in long relief. If he makes the team, he’s going to pitch regularly in higher-leverage situations.”

Reed pitched at three minor-league levels in 2015 and made his major-league debut June 18, 2016 in Houston. He struck out nine that day in a no-decision. It was the most strikeouts in a Reds debut since Cueto struck out 10 in his first start. Reed’s 2016 season ended with back spasms Sept. 16. He had an 0-7 record and a 7.36 ERA in 10 starts.

Last season, the Memphis, Tennessee native was one of seven rookies to make the opening-day roster but spent most of the year at Triple-A Louisville. He made 20 starts there and returned to the Reds in September, making seven more appearances in relief. He finished 1-1 with a 5.09 ERA for Cincinnati.

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