Price welcomes healthy Reds, dissects competition

Manager glad to be past injury-riddled '14 camp, talks about paring down rotation candidates

Price welcomes healthy Reds, dissects competition

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Reds did not even have a formal workout on Wednesday, when pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training, but it was already starting off on a better note than last year.

That's because no one needed surgery on the first day. The 2014 camp got underway with the news that Mat Latos needed surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee. The club would begin the year with eight players on the disabled list, most in the Major Leagues.

"I don't think we have any pending surgeries right now," Reds manager Bryan Price was happy to report.

Another stark difference in this camp will be seen in the wide-open competition for the final two spots in the starting rotation. After the first three spots belonging to Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake, the rest is up for grabs.

"The exact number is 'a lot.' It makes it very challenging," Price said of the rotation candidates. "Now it's a question on deciding who the favorites are right now. I do think that we have to handicap these guys to a certain degree. The reason I say that is it's impossible to have as many as six guys competing for the last two spots and get them all starts throughout the course of Spring Training. Somebody has to pitch second or third in a game. Somebody has to come out of the bullpen."

Lefty Tony Cingrani and offseason acquisition Anthony DeSclafani are viewed as the favorites and will get the early starts in spring.

"We'll see [Paul] Maholm, [Jason] Marquis, [David] Holmberg, [Raisel] Iglesias, a very strong host of guys competing with the opportunity to win a spot in our rotation," Price added.

Cingrani did not pitch after June 19 last season because of shoulder tendinitis, but he isn't expected to have any limitations this spring.

"I think Tony is ready to go. I don't think that's a question," Price said.

Here are some other takeaways from Wednesday:

• Price didn't just come out and say Cueto would be his Opening Day starter, but the manager made it pretty clear the ace would get the assignment.

"I don't think you're sticking your neck out if you don't put a quote of mine behind it," Price said. "I think you're pretty good there."

• Lefty reliever Sean Marshall, who is coming off shoulder surgery, appears to be iffy for being ready by Opening Day.

"We've slowed down his throwing to make sure everything is OK," Price said. "We hope that's to pick up here in the next couple of days."

• Early camp arrivals among the position players were Billy Hamilton, Skip Schumaker and Donald Lutz. Hamilton has been in Arizona since attending the Super Bowl.

• Price and the coaching staff held their annual meeting on Wednesday afternoon. On Thursday, the club will have morning physicals, followed by the first workout for the 34 pitchers and six catchers in camp.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.