Reds open spring training looking for new starting rotation
Feb. 17, 2015
CINCINNATI (AP) — The Reds open spring training on Wednesday with a couple of openings in the starting rotation — an unusual situation for Cincinnati.
Starters Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon were traded in the offseason, a significant overhaul to what was their strength last season. Cincinnati's rotation was the one constant in a disappointing, 86-loss season that saw the offense struggle and the bullpen implode.
Cincinnati upgraded the bullpen by adding Burke Badenhop and Kevin Gregg. First baseman Joey Votto is expected back from a left leg injury that sidelined him for most of last season. That leaves a lot of the focus on filling out the rotation in February and March.
"We feel we have a competitive team," manager Bryan Price said. "This isn't a rebuilt situation. So we have to feel as confident as we can one-through-five in our rotation."
There are even some questions about No. 1 as pitchers and catchers report on Wednesday in Goodyear, Arizona. Their first workout will be on Thursday, with the first full-squad workout scheduled for Feb. 24.
Johnny Cueto became the Reds' first 20-game winner since 1988. He's in the final year of his deal. The Reds want to keep him but aren't sure whether they'll be able to get an agreement on another big contract.
He's followed in the rotation by Homer Bailey (9-5, 3.71 ERA in 23 starts) and Mike Leake (11-13, 3.70 ERA in 33 starts). The Reds are hoping that Anthony DeSclafani, who was acquired from Miami as part of the trade for Latos, will fill one of the two open spots. DeSclafani went 2-2 with a 6.27 ERA in five starts and eight relief appearances.
Left-hander Tony Cingrani was 2-8 with a 4.55 ERA in 11 starts and two relief appearances last season, when he was sidelined by a sore shoulder.
Another candidate is right-hander Raisel Iglesias, who signed a seven-year, $27 million deal last June. He defected from Cuba in November 2013 and worked out for major league scouts in Haiti. Given his time away from competitive baseball, the Reds aren't sure how much to expect from him this year.
They're open to using him as a reliever this season and finding out what they've got.
"How much can he handle as far as the workload goes?" Price said. "Long-term, we see him as a starting pitcher. The question is do we feel comfortable giving him enough innings to be a starter in our rotation all season long?"
The rotation hasn't been so unsettled since 2010, when Edinson Volquez was returning from elbow surgery and Leake was competing with Travis Wood for a spot in the rotation. The Reds won the NL Central that season and lost to Philadelphia in the opening round of the playoffs.
"It looks a lot more like 2010," Price said. "We had a handful of young prospects and somehow we carved out a nice rotation for a playoff team."
Votto will get a lot of attention from the medical staff as well as the coaching staff once he starts working out. He missed 99 games last season and didn't play after July 5 because of strained muscles above his left knee, which affected his mobility and his swing.
When the medical staff checked him out last month, Votto appeared to be fully recovered.
"His strength was outstanding and the stamina was good," Price said. "So we're just looking at him hitting the ground running when Joey gets out to Goodyear and see with our own eyes where we're at. But we're confident he's going to be ready to go."
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