Moscot better, but return date iffy

Righty hurt left intercostal during BP, but starts vs. Minor Leaguers

Moscot better, but return date iffy

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Because of the left intercostal strain that kept him off the mound for more than two weeks, Jon Moscot no longer has a shot at opening the season in the Reds rotation. But on Monday, the right-hander took a needed step to join the starting five soon.

In a 33-pitch start in a Minor League game, Moscot threw two scoreless innings with one hit, no walks and three strikeouts. Most important: no pain.

Reds Spring Training info

"My side felt great, I'm not really feeling it anymore," Moscot said. "I wanted to get back to throwing all four pitches and throwing strikes, and I was able to do that. Obviously I was throwing against low-A guys, but it's nice to get in there against hitters and get a game feel."

Reds manager Bryan Price watched the game on the backfields at the team's Minor League complex.

"He looked good. It's only going to get better," Price said. "It's evaluating against younger hitters, but as far as a mechanical standpoint, letting it go and no signs of any issues from a physical standpoint, I thought it went very well."

Moscot seemed destined to make the team until suffering the injury while taking batting practice a couple of days following his March 11 start vs. the A's. He has not swung the bat since.

One spot in the Reds' rotation remains in flux, as it hasn't been decided who will start Game 3 of the regular season on April 7 vs. the Phillies. That spot could be filled by Tim Melville, at least in the short term. But another spot could open on April 17.

"Moscot fits in a little bit closer to the 17th if we go that route, if we go a one-and-done with a starter," Price said. "That would open an opportunity for Jon on the 17th, if we need a fifth starter."

More notes from Monday:

• Although tapped to start the second game of the regular season, Brandon Finnegan hasn't pitched well his last two games. Finnegan is still penciled in to start vs. the Indians in Thursday's Cactus League finale, but Price might have him work on the Minor League side instead.

"We really have to get these guys stretched out," Price said. "We've had to send him down once to the bullpen to get three simulated innings. That's just not the same as facing hitters. I think we have to, No. 1, be responsible to his being ready to pitch in a big league game. No. 2, I do think for a lot of these guys who have had, from a statistical standpoint, a rather poor Spring Training, I do think the big league season is going to provide a better environment."

Michael Lorenzen, who was limited to one spring start because of an elbow strain, has yet to resume throwing. Lorenzen was recently given a platelet-rich plasma injection to help with his healing.

"He has absolutely no discomfort in his elbow at this point in time," Price said. "Any time I think you have a PRP injection, they take a certain amount of time to settle in before you can do any type of throwing activity. We'll follow that protocol and reintroduce him to throwing and get him ready to go in hopes there are no setbacks."

• Price tipped that the Reds will likely carry eight pitchers in the bullpen, after originally indicating earlier in camp that he was leaning toward seven. Internal discussions continue on whether the Reds will go a man short on the bench to start or if they will carry four starters on the 25-man roster until a fifth man is needed on April 10.

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.