Raisel finding new bullpen role a good fit

Raisel finding new bullpen role a good fit

WASHINGTON -- Having Raisel Iglesias pitch out of the bullpen wasn't part of the Reds' plans heading into the season, but it became necessary because of his shoulder problems. Four relief appearances since Iglesias returned from the disabled list, it appears to be a good fit.

In Friday's 3-2 loss to the Nationals, Iglesias threw 30 pitches over 2 1/3 scoreless innings -- his longest relief appearance in the big leagues -- with one hit, one walk and one strikeout. He took over for starter Anthony DeSclafani with two outs in the seventh and left two inherited runners stranded.

"I feel really good coming out of the bullpen," Iglesias said on Saturday via translator Julio Morillo. "I've got my routine now. Coming out of the bullpen is something I did when I was in Cuba.

"In the fourth inning, I stand up and start stretching and start doing my weights for the elbow and try to get ready. I try to be ready as soon as possible. When they call me into the game, I try to do my job the best I can do it."

Iglesias indeed was a successful reliever in Cuba for both his pro club and the national team, but the Reds signed him in 2014 to be a starter. In his rookie season last year, he went 3-7 with a 4.15 ERA in 18 games, including 16 starts. The Reds shut him down in mid-September, however, with fatigue in his right shoulder.

The 26-year-old Iglesias was Cincinnati's Opening Day starter this season and posted a 3.49 ERA in five starts before the shoulder problems resurfaced, and he was on the DL with an impingement from May 1 to June 20. That prompted the club to use him as a reliever the rest of this season; his role could be revisited ahead of next year.

In his four relief appearances, Iglesias has a 1.23 ERA with one earned run, three hits, three walks and seven strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings. His four-seam fastball is averaging 96 mph, according to Pitch f/x, since his return. It was at 90 mph before the injury.

"My arm feels very good. I'm focused on trying to get people out, that's it," Iglesias said. "When I started I threw 100 pitches, and coming from the bullpen, it's just 20. It's easier to recover after 20 pitches. I feel like if they need me back-to-back, I can do it."

Position players pitching?

Because of heavy usage this week, the Reds' bullpen was shorthanded as Friday's game reached the 14th inning. In a 19-inning game the same night, the Blue Jays used two position players in a loss to the Indians.

The Reds haven't asked a position player to pitch since Skip Schumaker on Aug. 21, 2014. Manager Bryan Price sometimes watches his position players play catch and has seen them try a full windup.

"Little do they know that I'm actually doing some scouting," Price said, tongue in cheek ... but maybe just a little.

"You know your utility guys are going to be [possible]," Price added. "The best chance would probably be to see [Tyler Holt] or [Ivan De Jesus] in there. They may not know that yet, but they may now if you write it."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. 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.