GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Zack Cozart arrived at the Reds spring training complex Monday. He got loose, did his active warmup. He hit. He took ground balls. He ran. He lifted.
Pretty much exactly what he would have done the first day of a spring training if he hadn’t had a gruesome knee injury in June.
“That’s been the main thing I’ve been saying the past three weeks: I’m really close to being a normal guy again,” he said, “besides the fact that I go to the training to get some stuff done before I go out there.
“Once, I get out there I feel normal.”
Having Cozart and Devin Mesoraco healthy is the key to the Reds having any chance of surprising people. Mesoraco did not catch after the first week of the season because of hip impingement. He had surgery in the September.
Cozart was limited to 53 games. His injury was a major one. He tore the ACL, the LCL and his biceps tendon in his right knee. He’s now six months removed from the reconstructive surgery.
“I’m full-go,” he said. “After all that (Monday), I showed up (Tuesday) not sore. I’m about to go do the same thing. I don’t anticipate there being any problem. I feel really good. I feel strong. I feel pretty quick taking ground balls. Now, it’s a matter of getting that volume up and doing it every day.”
For now, Cozart is wearing a brace on the knee.
“Doc said it’s up to me,” Cozart said. “I’ll at least for the beginning wear the brace. We’ll see how it goes and what my confidence level is without it. I’m strong enough and everything feels good enough that I probably wouldn’t need it. Right now, it’s a peace of mind thing.”
Cozart was having a bounce-back year when the injury happened. He was hitting .258 with nine home runs when he got hurt. He hit .221 with only four home runs the year before.
“I’m just looking forward to getting back out there,” he said.