GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- A Reds rotation already short on experienced starting pitchers took a big hit on Sunday, when the club revealed that right-hander Anthony DeSclafani has another bout of tenderness in his throwing elbow.DeSclafani was scratched from his Cactus League debut on Monday vs. the A's and left camp
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- A Reds rotation already short on experienced starting pitchers took a big hit on Sunday, when the club revealed that right-hander Anthony DeSclafani has another bout of tenderness in his throwing elbow.
DeSclafani was scratched from his Cactus League debut on Monday vs. the A's and left camp for Cincinnati to undergo tests, including an MRI. Regardless of the outcome, his starting the season on the disabled list seems likely.
"It definitely makes you upset for sure," said rotation-mate Brandon Finnegan. "It sucks. I want him to be healthy. I want him to start the season with us. It definitely makes me angry. Right now all I can do is pray for the best. Hopefully, it's just soreness and they're taking precautions."
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DeSclafani experienced soreness on Feb. 23 after throwing to hitters in batting practice and missed his first start, but he was cleared on March 2 following an exam by team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek. DeSclafani threw one successful bullpen session but came up sore following his second time on a mound on Friday.
In both instances, said general manager Dick Williams, DeSclafani underwent an ultrasound. The second showed similar inflammation as the first.
"I do know the exam they gave him today, he felt a little different than he did previously," Williams said. "There was more cause for concern. Everything up until now hasn't risen to the level of needing to go to the MRI. They want to do that now to rule out what they need to rule out."
In 20 starts during 2016, DeSclafani went 9-5 with a 3.28 ERA, 123 1/3 innings pitched and one complete game. He missed the first two months because of a strained left oblique, an injury sustained in his final spring game.
Entering camp, DeSclafani was the presumptive Opening Day starter, but his absence leaves the Reds with three open rotation spots. Most of the candidates have limited or no Major League experience.
"All it does is heighten the need for some of these young starters to take advantage of this opportunity, and challenge to make the club," manager Bryan Price said. "[They need to] be able to give us some competitive innings. It is time for some step-up performances, for sure."
Several young prospects, such as Amir Garrett, Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson, are competing for spots, along with Tim Adleman, Lisalverto Bonilla and Bronson Arroyo. Price did not rule out young pitchers originally viewed as being on the second-tier of the battle -- including Sal Romano, Rookie Davis and Luis Castillo -- moving up to the forefront.
"We're going to have to let these guys compete," Price said. "The other part you have to take a look at is what's in the best interest as a young player. Sometimes, necessity leads to the opportunity, and then there's those that jump at the opportunity and those that shrink under the light of it. We'll see how we handle it."
Price did rule out using reliever Raisel Iglesias as a starter because of Iglesias' shoulder issues the past two seasons, and because he likes him from the bullpen. Price did leave the door open to look at reliever Michael Lorenzen as a possible starter again.
Williams always has an eye on the free-agent and trade markets, and the waiver wire, to potentially add depth. Unsigned free agents include Timothy Lincecum, Doug Fister and Edwin Jackson. But Williams isn't yet ready to step up the search for a replacement pitcher.
"The first step is to find out what we're dealing with on Disco," Williams said. "We'll have a better idea after he undergoes further testing and the doctors give us a more definitive read of what we're dealing with -- whether this is a minor or major setback."
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.