Iglesias, Reds encouraged by simulated game

Iglesias, Reds encouraged by simulated game

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Facing hitters for the first time in spring Tuesday afternoon was a basic, but important, step for Reds pitcher Raisel Iglesias. The right-hander is now well on his way to being on track for the season after starting camp a little behind the other pitchers.

Iglesias, who had his workload delayed at the start of camp because of a special shoulder flexibility program, threw 20 pitches of a simulated game while facing Reds shortstop Zack Cozart and Minor League hitters Steve Selsky and Jeff Gelalich.

"I felt really comfortable," Iglesias said via translator Tomas Vera. "I feel a lot better being the first time I'm on the mound today. It feels good."

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Following one more session vs. hitters in camp for Iglesias, Reds manager Bryan Price expected him to make his Cactus League debut Monday vs. the Angels in Tempe. He is expected to make five spring starts and be on schedule for the regular season, likely to pitch from the fifth spot on or around April 10.

"It's not really a concern from a health perspective," Price said. "It's just getting him strong enough to handle the workload and gaining more flexibility, which was an offseason goal, one of the reasons we didn't start him throwing earlier. I think he's ready. Realistically he could go into a game right now, but we're not going to do that."

Iglesias felt the shoulder program has paid dividends during Tuesday's session and in his bullpen sessions throughout camp.

"I definitely feel the difference," he said. "I've felt that my shoulder was more loose. I've felt that my shoulder is more free to relax and perform my pitches. I think the work we're doing, and everybody that's been working with me, has everything going well."

Iglesias strikes out 13

Iglesias, who has been setback-free to this point, threw all of his pitches -- the fastball, breaking ball and changeup Tuesday. Tucker Barnhart was behind the plate.

"He was dropping [his shoulder] down, throwing pitches down low like he did in the middle of the season," Barnhart said. "I'd say it was business as usual for all of his pitches. He threw strikes with all of his pitches and the ball was coming out of his hand really good. He looked normal.

"I don't think anything was hit incredibly hard. He got wild a little bit, but I think that's to be expected when he's facing hitters for the first time of the year. Nothing that I haven't seen from him in the past."

A rookie last season following his defection from Cuba in 2014, the 26-year-old Iglesias was 3-7 with a 4.15 ERA in 18 games, including 16 starts, for the Reds in 2015. In 95 1/3 innings, he allowed 81 hits and 28 walks with 104 strikeouts and a 1.14 WHIP. He felt like he was on track for 2016.

"I'm feeling really good right now," Iglesias said. "Maybe one or two things I have to adjust. In a couple of more outings, I will be OK. Maybe I have to work on my alignment with my front shoulder, just to get over the top and things like that. I don't think that's a big concern; they are small things I can get done quick."

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.