After missing the first three months of the season, Michael Lorenzen didn't want to ease into anything. Not with the Cincinnati Reds sitting outside the playoff picture.
Lorenzen's season debut came to a disappointing end Saturday when he scored the game-tying run in the 10th inning, coming up lame while sprinting down the third-base line on a sacrifice fly.
He hobbled across the plate, flipped off his helmet and went straight to the clubhouse with a trainer by his side. It's a hamstring injury, but the Reds won't know the severity until Sunday.
"Obviously, it’s such a huge loss," Reds manager David Bell said after a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. "He worked so hard to get back. He’s so important to our pitching staff, and I put him in a position tonight where I asked him to do a lot, and he wasn’t prepared to do it.
"It’s no fault of his. It’s no fault of anyone. I put him in that position, and he wasn’t ready for it. I’m hoping, for his sake more than anything, but also for our team that he comes out (Sunday) and it’s not severe. That’s all we can hope for at this point."
With one out in the bottom of the 10th inning, trailing by a run, Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson hit a medium distance fly ball in left field. Lorenzen, arguably the fastest player on the team with Nick Senzel injured, was one of the few players who would attempt to score on that shallow of a fly ball.
Lorenzen took about four steps down the line before he grimaced and stumbled. Brewers left fielder Christian Yelich was off the mark with his throw, which allowed a hobbled Lorenzen to score easily.
Lorenzen was used in a two-way role in his first game back from a shoulder strain. He pitched a scoreless eighth inning, stranding two runners and striking out two, played the outfield for two innings and struck out in his lone at-bat against Brewers closer Josh Hader.
It wasn't planned for Lorenzen to play the outfield in his season debut, but the Reds were already playing a man short on their bench. Nick Castellanos was hit by a pitch on his right wrist Friday and was unavailable Saturday.
As the last out of the ninth inning, Lorenzen was the automatic runner at second base for the 10th inning when the Reds trailed by a run.
"I feel 100% good about the way we went to try to win tonight’s game," Bell said Saturday night. "But each and every game, as important as they are, it’s not even close to being as important as our players’ health. It’s something that’s important to all of us here, me included. That’s what hurts for me because I’m in that position to make that decision, obviously.
"He gets deeper into his return, and we do that every single time and we feel good about it. He just wasn’t ready."