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Quackenbush making case to join Reds roster

MLB.com @m_sheldon

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- A non-roster reliever, right-hander Kevin Quackenbush has quietly done at Spring Training exactly what a pitcher trying to earn a job should do: put up zeros.

In seven appearances, Quackenbush has allowed no earned runs with one unearned run, five hits, three walks and 10 strikeouts. He struck out the side with one walk in Saturday's 5-4 win over the Giants.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- A non-roster reliever, right-hander Kevin Quackenbush has quietly done at Spring Training exactly what a pitcher trying to earn a job should do: put up zeros.

In seven appearances, Quackenbush has allowed no earned runs with one unearned run, five hits, three walks and 10 strikeouts. He struck out the side with one walk in Saturday's 5-4 win over the Giants.

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"I'm still here. It's still exciting," Quackenbush said on Sunday.

Quackenbush, 29, is seeking one of the final bullpen spots and is among several contenders still left in camp. Unlike fellow competitors such as Austin Brice, Kevin Shackelford or Zack Weiss, the Reds will have the added hoop of trying to find room for Quackenbush on the 40-man roster before he goes on the 25-man active roster.

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There are currently two openings. After he had four big league seasons with the Padres, Cincinnati signed Quackenbush to a Minor League deal in October and invited him to camp.

"Quackenbush has had a nice spring," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He's been the off-the-radar guy that has really pitched very well. He's extremely prepared, and he has great confidence in his fastball for a guy who has a really good curveball and isn't really overpowering as far as the sheer velocity numbers, but he's a guy that pitches with that elevated fastball extremely well. He's been really good about every time out."

As a rookie in 2014, Quackenbush posted a 2.48 ERA in 56 appearances and he went on to go 13-14 with a 4.08 ERA in 103 big league games with San Diego. All of his seasons had something in common, however, because they all included stints at Triple-A El Paso.

Video: SD@ARI: Quackenbush whiffs Owings in the 7th

The wheels came off in 2017, as Quackenbush had a 7.86 ERA in 20 games and 26 1/3 innings. He was designated for assignment on Sept. 1.

"I think it was a culmination of going up and down so many times," Quackenbush said. "I think it got into my head a little bit. I tried to do a little too much. I tried to overthrow and didn't stay within myself. It's not the ideal situation to be in. I tried to make the most of it, and it just didn't work out last year."

Quackenbush enjoyed working at Petco Park for the Padres, but would be going from a pitcher-friendly ballpark to the very hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park if he makes it on to the Reds.

Historically, Quackenbush has been a fly ball pitcher with a 0.69 career ground ball to fly ball ratio. That could be problematic at GABP, where routine fly balls can easily carry over the wall.

"But you're still trying to make pitches," Quackenbush said, not concerned. "If you hit your spots and make your pitches, a majority of the time you will be OK."

Never before this spring has Quackenbush faced trying to make a team, while simultaneously trying to improve his pitches. But so far, so good.

"It's an exciting opportunity to be here and I'm excited to see what happens," Quackenbush said.

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, Kevin Quackenbush