Cincinnati Reds pitchers and catchers report to Goodyear, AZ, today as the clubs 2015 Spring Training camp opens, and, while those of us up north are mired in another nasty winter, the boys of summer give us hope for a happy season. The Reds enter Spring with a litany of questions that they’ll need to answer in the next six weeks, and it all starts with the guys who form Cincinnati’s on-field batteries.
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Here are the areas to watch in the early days of Spring Training:
Everyone knows that the Reds’ offense was paltry last season, but the brilliance of close Aroldis Chapman somewhat masked the fact that the Cincinnati bullpen was one of the worst in the game. Reds relievers ended 2014 with a 4.11 ERA, second-worst in the National League, and all the worse when you consider that Chapman posted an even 2.00 in 54.0 innings.
A month ago, it looked like the Reds would roll out the same cast of characters as last season, but then they signed Burke Badenhop and Kevin Gregg to compete with incumbents J.J. Hoover, Sam LeCure, Sean Marshall, and Manny Parra. Also in camp will be newcomers Matt Magill and Jose Mijares.
Badenhop seems a near-lock to snag a middle relief role after posting a 2.29 ERA in 70 innings with the Boston Red Sox last season.
It’s probably a toss-up among the other names here for who garners additional slots coming out of camp, with health and Spring performances playing a big role in the determination.
Back of Rotation
Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon are gone as part of a free-agent-to-be salary purge, and youngster Anthony DeSclafani joins the mix to fill the fourth and fifth rotation slots behind Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake. Joining that fray will be veterans Paul Maholm and Jason Marquis, and Tony Cingrani will try to prove that he is back from injury and inconsistency and can capitalize on the promise he has shown in past seasons.
And then, of course, there is …
Iglesias is the Reds’ latest foray into the international free agent market, having signed him to a seven-year, $30-million deal out of Cuba in June of 2014. Iglesias has a strong four-pitch repertoire and projects as a starter in the Big Leagues, but he could figure into the Reds’ bullpen plans if a) he falters with pitching endurance in the spring, b) other bullpen options don’t pan out before April, or c) one of the Reds’ young guns blows by Iglesias and others to nab a rotation spot
The safe money is on Iglesias landing a roster spot of some sort coming out of Spring Training, but there is at least some chance he’ll end up back at Triple-A Louisville.
There will be plenty to watch at Reds camp over the next six weeks or so, and these pitching questions are just the tip of what promises to be a very interesting ice form lurking just beneath the surface of the Ohio River.