DeSclafani feels good after facing hitters

Reds pitcher hopes to come off DL to start Sunday

DeSclafani feels good after facing hitters

CINCINNATI -- Reds pitcher Anthony DeSclafani has yet to be cleared to come off the disabled list and start Sunday, but he appeared to clear an important hurdle on Wednesday. DeSclafani faced teammates Jay Bruce, Billy Hamilton and Tyler Holt in a three-inning simulated game and encountered no issues.

In his last start during Spring Training, DeSclafani strained his left oblique. He has been pain-free for more than a week and had no problems pitching Wednesday.

"I felt good. I felt like the ball was coming out good," DeSclafani said. "I talked to Bruce, Hamilton and Holt, and they said the action on the pitches was good and coming in good. It's not in-game adrenaline and stuff like that, but I was happy with the way everything was working."

Jordan Pacheco caught DeSclafani and liked what he saw as well.

"He looked very good, sharp," Pacheco said.

DeSclafani, who would have started on Opening Day had he not been injured, went through his usual pregame procedures before the session. He warmed up, long-tossed in the outfield and threw in the bullpen. Then he threw about 15 pitches each inning to the hitters.

Manager Bryan Price wasn't ready to commit that DeSclafani would be ready start Sunday vs. the Pirates.

"We're going to get through [Thursday] and see how he feels and his bullpen the day after tomorrow before we sign off on anything regarding Sunday," Price said.

DeSclafani would be taking the vacant fifth spot in the rotation for the start against Pittsburgh. If he is not deemed ready to go, there is a Plan B, but Price would not say who might pitch instead.

"We did make sure we had someone in mind should he not be ready to go," he said.

DeSclafani, who led the Reds with 31 starts and 184 2/3 innings in his 2015 rookie season, anticipated being able to pitch. He was eager to return.

"I can't wait for that day to come on Sunday. I don't like being on the DL," he said. "I like helping my team. I like contributing. It's something I take pride in, to be able to take the ball, try to win a ballgame and be a part of the team."

• Price was disappointed that Rule 5 pick and outfielder Jake Cave was returned to the Yankees on Tuesday. Cave competed until the end of camp for a roster spot but was designated for assignment Sunday. Rule 5 players must stay on the 25-man roster all season or risk being returned to their former club.

"We would have loved to keep Jake, no doubt about it," Price said. "He is a terrific young player, and we all saw him as a big leaguer. There [were] some limitations on how much playing time I thought I could get him over the course of this year. My big concern was the history with Donald Lutz and Neftali Soto and guys who came up and didn't play much at a very young age and how they were able to deal with that and how when they returned to the minor leagues, performed afterwards. I would have hated to see that happen to Jake."

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.