Reds release Maholm as they whittle down roster

Villarreal optioned; Adcock, De Jesus, Falu, Skipworth reassigned to Minors camp

Reds release Maholm as they whittle down roster

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Reds' roster crept closer to its look for Opening Day when six players were cut from big league camp on Monday.

Veteran left-handed pitcher Paul Maholm was released; right-handed reliever Pedro Villarreal was optioned to Triple-A Louisville; and right-handed reliever Nate Adcock, infielders Ivan De Jesus Jr. and Irving Falu and catcher Kyle Skipworth were reassigned to the Minor League camp.

That left the Reds with 30 players in camp, although three players -- starter Homer Bailey, reliever Sean Marshall and outfielder Jason Bourgeois -- will begin the season on the disabled list.

Three more cuts will be needed for the club to be at its 25-man limit before Opening Day.

Without Bourgeois, there are 13 position players remaining. That makes it appear that the Reds' bench is set, with non-roster invites Chris Dominguez and Brennan Boesch making the team.

The final decisions will be on the pitching staff, and much of that hinges on what's decided for the fifth starter's spot for Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen. The club doesn't need a fifth man until April 12 and could opt for keep that person in the Minors to stay sharp while adding an eighth reliever, or have him join the big league bullpen. There are currently nine relievers left on the roster.

Initially competing for a rotation spot, Maholm was told a couple of weeks ago he would be in the bullpen if he made the team. He had a 2.19 ERA in five games, but it was clear he wanted to start.

The Reds had until Tuesday morning to either put Maholm on the big league roster, release him or pay him a $100,000 retention bonus and send him to the Minors.

"We felt like we'd love to have [Maholm] in the organization, and we have a spot for him in Triple-A," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "But the thing is, he's a big leaguer. He hasn't been in the Minor Leagues for 10 years or so. It seemed like the right thing to do to give him an opportunity to look around at other clubs and see if there's some Major League opportunity -- maybe there's a better opportunity than pitching in Triple-A for us.

"He had a very good spring, and he showed, I think, that he still has the ability to pitch in the big leagues. We just felt like, at this time, we had guys that were a little bit better suited to pitch out of our bullpen."

Villarreal seemed to have a solid chance of making the team entering camp after he opened eyes with a nice second half last season. But he posted a 12.38 ERA in his seven games this spring.

De Jesus had a strong spring, batting .406 in 20 games, while Falu batted .306 in 21 games. Skipworth, a former first-round Draft pick of the Marlins, was told when he signed in the offseason that he would likely be the regular catcher at Double-A Pensacola.

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.