With Johnny Cueto at Home, Cincinnati Reds Might Have to Juggle Rotation


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Just two days after Cincinnati Reds‘ manager Bryan Price hinted at the makeup of his Opening Day starting rotation, family matters may force the skipper to revamp his plans.  According to an Associated Press report on Friday, Reds’ ace Johnny Cueto has returned home to the Dominican Republic to be with an ailing family member, and it’s not clear when he will return.

Cueto, who is slated to start for the Reds on Opening Day, fronts a rotation that already looks markedly different from the one that kept Cincinnati in contention for a good part of last summer.   Gone are Mat Latos and Alfred Simon, via trades, and Homer Bailey is still recovering from forearm surgery late in the 2014 season and is not expected back until mid 2014.

The retooled rotation behind Cueto includes holdover Brad Leake and newcomers Jason Marquis, Anthony DeSclafani and Raisel Iglesias.  With Cueto’s status in some doubt, the Reds must start thinking about shifting those four forward and looking for another arm to slot into the fifth spot, which is needed only sparingly in April.

The most obvious candidate to fill that hole would be Paul Maholm, whom Price has said he views as a long-term part of the team but who slid from consideration for the rotation earlier in the week. Coming off surgery rehab that robbed him of his entire 2014 season, Maholm has been working as a starter all during Spring Training until the last few days, so it would likely be a simple transition to plop him back into the rotation plans.

Other options would be a bit more cumbersome and include guys like Jon Moscot, who was assigned to minor league camp on Monday.

Obviously, the best-case scenario for the Reds is for Cueto to return in time to make his Opening Day start, but there are a lot of variables in his situation.  Family health issues trump just about everything else in life, including Major League baseball, and another wild card is travel abroad.  You just never know how easy (or hard) it will be to get back where you need to be, when you need to be there.

For a Reds team hoping to compete one more time, the loss of their biggest arm for Opening Day could be a hard blow to absorb.

Next: Time Running Out for Cincinnati Reds to Sign Johnny Cueto


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