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Reds' SS situation helped draw Pennington

Veteran hopeful to make club, mentor young starter Peraza
MLB.com @m_sheldon

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- When free-agent infielder Cliff Pennington sized up his options for signing for 2018, the Reds emerged as his top choice. The club needed a backup shortstop for Jose Peraza, and none of the other players currently in camp were natural shortstops like Pennington.

"Obviously, when you're comparing teams and stuff like that, that's part of the equation," Pennington said Sunday after reporting to camp and taking his physical. "That was definitely a plus for our side, along with other things."

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- When free-agent infielder Cliff Pennington sized up his options for signing for 2018, the Reds emerged as his top choice. The club needed a backup shortstop for Jose Peraza, and none of the other players currently in camp were natural shortstops like Pennington.

"Obviously, when you're comparing teams and stuff like that, that's part of the equation," Pennington said Sunday after reporting to camp and taking his physical. "That was definitely a plus for our side, along with other things."

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Pennington, 33, is a veteran of 10 Major League seasons with the A's, D-backs, Blue Jays and Angels. He's logged 604 games at shortstop in the big leagues, double the number of games he's played at other positions combined.

Cincinnati signed Pennington to a Minor League deal on Thursday and invited him to big league camp. He would earn $1.5 million this season if he makes the team.

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Chances are -- barring injury or debacle -- that Pennington will earn a spot on the bench. Peraza is still considered a developing shortstop, and the club will need Pennington's experience.

"It was just kind of breaking it down a little bit and seeing what the role could be. It seemed like a good place to go," said Pennington, who also plays second base and third base. "It's a good team with an opportunity to make it and help out, help build a winning culture and do some good things."

Pennington batted .253/.306/.330 with three home runs and 21 RBIs in 87 games last season for the Angels. In his last two seasons there, he logged only 35 games at shortstop, but for good reason. Anaheim has Andrelton Simmons at shortstop.

Video: LAA@SEA: Pennington makes a nifty play to nab Segura

"You had the best in the world at short. That guy is very special," Pennington said of Simmons. "I didn't play as much short just because of that with him. Shortstop is still home, so it will be all right."

No Opening Day starting pitcher, yet
For those awaiting word for who the Reds' Opening Day starter will be on March 29 vs. the Nationals, be patient. Reds manager Bryan Price isn't ready to name one yet.

"I don't need to wait until the last week to say what I think, but I have to get into the Cactus League season for a while and make sure these guys are healthy and sharp before we start handing out rotation spots," Price said.

Price has good cause to be cautious. His expected Opening Day starter the past two years -- Anthony DeSclafani -- was injured in camp both years and began the seasons on the disabled list. The team has also seen its rotation battered by injuries both years.

One player missing
Sunday was the report date for position players, and the Reds will hold their first full-squad workout on Monday. Only one player has not reported -- Sebastian Elizalde, who was held up in Mexico with visa issues. Elizalde is expected to be in camp by Wednesday.

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.

Cincinnati Reds, Cliff Pennington