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DeSclafani unlikely to start Opening Day

Precaution for right elbow tenderness sets him back
MLB.com @m_sheldon

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- When Anthony DeSclafani missed a few days of throwing last week out of precaution for some right elbow tenderness, it likely cost him a chance once again at getting the honor of starting for the Reds on Opening Day.

DeSclafani checked out OK when examined by the medical staff, but he is now playing catch-up. His first side bullpen session is Tuesday, and he will need one more before pitching in a game in mid-March. That won't give him time to get enough starts in before the April 3 opener against the Phillies at Great American Ball Park.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- When Anthony DeSclafani missed a few days of throwing last week out of precaution for some right elbow tenderness, it likely cost him a chance once again at getting the honor of starting for the Reds on Opening Day.

DeSclafani checked out OK when examined by the medical staff, but he is now playing catch-up. His first side bullpen session is Tuesday, and he will need one more before pitching in a game in mid-March. That won't give him time to get enough starts in before the April 3 opener against the Phillies at Great American Ball Park.

"It's pretty annoying," DeSclafani said on Sunday. "I definitely didn't think it would affect it like that since it was over a month out. I don't know. I guess the way it's mapped out, there is no chance. I would like to be optimistic, and maybe if it's feeling really good and we take it day-by-day. I hope there is a chance somehow."

Video: Outlook: DeSclafani could continue to thrive for Reds

DeSclafani was the presumptive Opening Day starter heading into the 2016 season. But that was squashed when he sustained a strained left oblique in his final spring start and missed two months on the disabled list.

"That was definitely more heartbreaking since it was right there," DeSclafani said. "I guess I have a month to think about it and get over it. It is what it is."

The Reds usually like to have their pitchers get four or five spring starts in either Cactus League or Minor League games before heading into the regular season.

"It's a four-start minimum, with a potential for a fifth, based on -- number one -- if he gets through these games healthy and -- number two -- where we slot him in the rotation," Reds manager Bryan Price said.

The only other two pitchers locked into the rotation are Brandon Finnegan and Scott Feldman. The fourth and fifth spots remain up for grabs in camp.

"Anybody wants to start on Opening Day," Finnegan said. "I hope that's what every starter should want. It sucks for Disco if he can't. It would be two years in a row that he was supposed to start it and didn't get to. I want him to start for us. I want him to be there from Opening Day to the last game of the year. I want him to be healthy just like everybody else. When it comes to that point if they ask me to do it, I'm going to do it."

Price was asked who might start on Opening Day if DeSclafani can't.

"I can tell you now, I have no idea," Price replied. "This has really set us back. Without trying to be coy, at this point in time, I have no idea who our Opening Day starter is."

DeSclafani debuted on June 10 last season and went 9-5 with a 3.28 ERA over 123 1/3 innings, with one complete game in 20 starts.

Video: CIN@ARI: DeSclafani earns first career complete game

Unlike last year, however, DeSclafani has a chance to pitch the first week of the season and not miss any starts.

"That's the goal. I'd rather have 30 starts any day anyway, pitch a whole season and help the team out," DeSclafani said. "I don't want to do what I did last year and miss 10 starts."

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, Anthony DeSclafani