Price sheds light on Reds' rotation candidates

Three spots up for grabs to join DeSclafani, Iglesias

Price sheds light on Reds' rotation candidates

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- For the first time this year in Arizona, and the third time overall, Reds pitcher Homer Bailey worked from a mound in the bullpen on Friday. Bailey, who is trying to return from 2015 Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, threw 25 pitches.

"Everything was great," said Bailey, who will throw from a mound again on Monday.

Spring Training info

As Bailey isn't expected to be ready to return until May, there will be three spots open in the Reds' rotation to open the 2016 season. Earlier Friday morning, manager Bryan Price shed some light on the contenders.

In the battle for big league starting spots are Jon Moscot, Michael Lorenzen, Brandon Finnegan, Cody Reed, Robert Stephenson, Tim Melville and Jonathan Sanchez. They will join expected top-two rotation locks Anthony DeSclafani and Raisel Iglesias in being prepared this spring as starters.

The two non-prospects are Sanchez and Melville. Sanchez was signed to a Minor League deal on Jan. 29 after a strong winter ball showing in Puerto Rico, but he hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2013. Melville, a Minor League signing in December, was 7-10 with a 4.63 ERA last season for Triple-A Toledo in the Tigers' organization.

Finding enough innings for everyone will be a challenge.

"In some ways, it's hard to say, because you know you only have five starting spots and we have two split-squads that are, like, 15 days apart or something like that," Price said. "We don't have any B games scheduled yet. Obviously, there will only be five guys that are starting every fifth day, but quite often it'll be the second guy in the game, it'll be a guy we're also trying to stretch out. Then when Minor League games start, we can begin to utilize those, and we can also start to schedule some B games based on need if we're going to have multiple guys to stretch out."

Right-hander Keyvius Sampson will be viewed as a fallback starting-pitcher candidate.

"His value really is more in our bullpen mix," Price said. "We know that he can start, but right now with who we have here, I'd love to see him as a versatile bullpen arm and swing guy."

Price said that a former starter in camp, Tony Cingrani, will continue to be prepared as a reliever this spring.

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