GOODYEAR, Ariz. - On day three of camp, Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price was asked about the opening day starting pitcher.
Price is like the freshman high school coach, taking in players from the various middle schools and matching them with positions and learning their strengths and weakness.
He knows what he has in Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani and Raisel Iglasias and he has knowledge of the others, but hasn’t seen any of them for a full season.
“I have a pretty good idea of how it will turn out but I’m not making any guarantees,” Price said Saturday.
The work groups are posted but the list of who will pitch in each spring game is not yet posted. The Reds open the exhibition schedule March 1 against Cleveland.
“We have a long way to go before the season starts,” Price said.
Other than J.J. Hoover and Jumbo Diaz, Price has had little time to get to really know the others that will make up the bullpen.
He must also decide whether some pitchers are going to start or pitch in relief.
Tony Cingrani and Keyvious Sampson have started in the past. Cingrani broke in with the Reds as a starter. He started one game for the Reds and six for Louisville. Sampson started 12 games for the Reds and seven in the minor leagues.
“Sampson is going to be a fallback starter. We really see him in our bullpen mix,” Price said. “I would love to see him as a versatile bullpen guy. Cingrani will be in the bullpen.”
Michael Lorenzen is also an in-between pitcher. The Reds are as yet unsure whether he fits in as a starter or reliever.
“Lorenzen can fill multiple roles,” Price said. “He’s been a dominant performer as a starter in Double A and Triple A. I’m not going to close the door on him being in the bullpen but if you don’t try them in that role it is an opportunity lost. It is the same with Brandon Finnegan. He had success with Kansas City in the postseason out of the bullpen.”
Price feels Lorenzen has extra qualities that make him an attractive starter.
“He was a college center fielder and closer,” Price said. “The value as a starter is pitching 200 innings but as a hitter and with his athletic ability it is a bonus. But if you have a lead late in the game and blow it, you’re wasting time.”
The Reds gave up Todd Frazier to obtain second baseman Jose Peraza. The Reds had deals in place to trade the incumbent at second — Brandon Phillips — but he nixed those moves as a 10-5 veteran (10 years in the Major Leagues, five with the same team.)
Peraza can play shortstop and center field as well as second and that versatility could help him make the team out of spring training rather than playing every day at Triple A.
“We think he is a tremendous player,” Price said. “We have to see how well he can play a lot of different positions this spring. We don’t think of him as a utility player. We think of him as an every day player but that may be how it starts out. Phillips will get more days off and Zack (Cozart), coming off an injury, will need days off.”
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