"The problem with targeting Reed or Stephenson is we have to give them time off before the start and time off after that start," Price said on Thursday. "Based on the health of the bullpen, it would be a lot easier to look at that the closer we get to the game. We also know that we have three roster pitchers. Romano is scheduled to pitch that day, as well. We've got some options."
Romano, 23, narrowly missed making the big league rotation after a strong Spring Training and has performed well in his first two starts for Louisville. The Reds' No. 9 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, has a 1.38 ERA and 0.92 WHIP, which includes his seven scoreless innings with four hits, no walks and five strikeouts vs. Toledo on Tuesday.
Stephenson pitched two scoreless innings vs. the Pirates on Wednesday but struggled on Saturday vs. the Cardinals in his 2017 debut, allowing three earned runs and six walks over 1 2/3 innings. Reed threw three perfect innings vs. the Pirates on Monday after laboring through his first appearance last week against the Phillies with four walks over two scoreless innings.
"What really made that situation [Wednesday] was our ability to have that second four-run inning and create enough space there where we could give Robert some wiggle room to just go out and do his thing." Price said. "He responded well and had much better fastball command and was able to get that split and curveball over. He threw two really nice sliders. This is kind of the vehicle I'd like to use to get guys like Reed and Stephenson back into starting opportunities to build their confidence in their stuff up through the way we use them out of the bullpen, at least initially."
On Tuesday, Davis suffered a bruised right forearm when he was hit by a pitch and was put on the 10-day disabled list the following day.
Price would also like to alter the rotation to separate Scott Feldman and Bronson Arroyo from starting on consecutive days so they can be wedged between the three young starters.
"It's really the fact that you've got your two most senior pitchers who know how to manage a game going back-to-back," Price said. "The one thing that I kept an eye on coming out of Spring Training is the fact that we need guys that can manage games between the younger pitchers. Not because I lack optimism, but I'm also a realist. The veteran guy kind of knows how to survive some early-game setbacks more so than a younger pitcher."
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.