Iglesias happy to pitch in any role out of 'pen

Iglesias happy to pitch in any role out of 'pen

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- If it's a nice day in downtown Cincinnati, and the Reds are at home, there's a good chance this season you might notice reliever Raisel Iglesias cruising along on his electric scooter toward Great American Ball Park.

The easygoing Iglesias, 27, has enjoyed his time with the Reds since he defected from Cuba in 2013 and signed with the club in 2014.

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"I like to go outside and take the scooter. I like that people can see me and recognize me," Iglesias said via translator Julio Morillo. "I love when fans recognize who I am. They have taken care of me. I feel part of the community. I like to spend time with people outside of baseball. I love that.

"Living in Miami, I feel really well over there. In Cincinnati, where I spend most of the year, people take care of me. I feel happy with it."

Iglesias, who is gradually speaking more English, has also assimilated smoothly into the Reds' bullpen after he began 2016 as the team's Opening Day starter. He made five starts until a right shoulder impingement forced him to the disabled list for six weeks. It was his second shoulder injury in two seasons.

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Demonstrating higher velocity that entered the mid-to-high 90s mph as a reliever, Iglesias helped lift a Reds bullpen that was sagging and struggling. The right-hander posted a 1.98 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and six saves in eight chances over 50 innings and 32 relief appearances after coming off of the DL.

Even though he pronounced his shoulder to be 100 percent again, it would appear that Iglesias' days of being a starting pitcher are behind him. The bullpen is his home.

"I love it. I like to be out there," he said. "I feel comfortable in the bullpen. I feel like I can give it 100 percent there every time. I think that's my role, I love it."

Over the offseason, Reds manager Bryan Price indicated he would like to use a hybrid situation to fill the late innings. Price wouldn't necessarily have one closer, but up to four in Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, Drew Storen and Tony Cingrani.

Late last season, Iglesias, Lorenzen and Cingrani split up the final innings with a degree of success. The notion for 2017 would be that Reds relievers might get fewer appearances, but get used for multiple innings per appearance.

"It's a decision I don't get to make. If Bryan wants to use me for one inning, or multiple innings, I'm fine with it," Iglesias said. "If I go in there for the ninth, or if I have to throw three or four innings, it doesn't matter for me. I'm going to compete and help the team win the game. That's the only thing I care about."

Professionally and personally, Iglesias felt like things all came together according to plan.

"When I defected from Cuba, the only goal I had on my mind was to become a big league player," said Iglesias, who was signed to a seven-year, $27 million contract that came with a $5 million bonus on June 27, 2014. "That's the goal of every amateur or younger guy. I thank God I have the opportunity over here to play in the best sport at the best level of the sport. That was my goal since day one. Everything worked out well for me."

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