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Finnegan faces hitters for 1st time since June

MLB.com @m_sheldon

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It wasn't a real game against another team, but Thursday marked a chance for Reds left-hander Brandon Finnegan to face hitters again. And he got to break some bats, too.

In what was termed as a controlled scrimmage on a practice field, Finnegan faced eight batters over the equivalent of two innings while throwing 31 pitches (22 strikes).

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It wasn't a real game against another team, but Thursday marked a chance for Reds left-hander Brandon Finnegan to face hitters again. And he got to break some bats, too.

In what was termed as a controlled scrimmage on a practice field, Finnegan faced eight batters over the equivalent of two innings while throwing 31 pitches (22 strikes).

View Full Game Coverage

"Today was just a day to go out there and face live hitters, and I finally got to do that, so it's definitely a good feeling," Finnegan said. "It was the first time I've gotten up and down since June. It was a different feeling, but I felt great. I just threw fastball and changeup today, and everything felt good."

Finnegan, who pitched 172 innings in 2016, was limited to four starts last season. He strained the teres major muscle near his left shoulder in April and again during his comeback start on June 26. In July, he needed surgery for a dislocated right shoulder after he fell from a boat.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Hence, the Reds decided to be cautious with Finnegan's first time pitching against hitters.

"I was definitely upset about that, but I completely understand why they wanted it to be a controlled environment," Finnegan said. "They just wanted to see me face hitters before I got on the field. That's over with. Next step is hopefully the game."

In the first inning, Finnegan gave up a single to Ben Revere before Phil Gosselin slugged a long two-run homer to left field. Finnegan also broke a couple of bats, including Jesse Winker's on his second pitch, while getting him to ground out to first base. He also cracked one of Scott Schebler's bats.

"I told Schebler I was going to break one of his bats. I'm glad I did. It's fun," Finnegan said.

Perez erratic in debut
Veteran lefty reliever Oliver Perez gave himself a handful to deal with in his Reds spring debut against the Royals on Wednesday. Entering in the fifth inning, Perez loaded the bases with no outs on a walk, hit batter and bunt single. Getting a lucky double play on a flyout to right field helped him escape with just one run allowed -- the tying one -- in what would be a 3-2 Reds loss.

"I felt strange. It's the first game and I was excited," Perez said on Thursday. "If you don't focus, that inning could have been really bad. My goal was to get outs. It worked. They scored one run and we were still in the game."

Perez signed a Minor League deal on Feb. 24 and is trying to make the club as a lefty situational reliever. Manager Bryan Price felt he was erratic but didn't put too much into the first game.

"I imagine he'll be a lot sharper as we progress with spring," Price said. "I'm sure he's trying to put his best foot forward. He wasn't great yesterday. He found his way to wiggle out of it."

Video: Perez on signing Minor League deal with the Reds

Camp battle
The Reds have gotten mostly good starts from all of their rotation contenders. At some point, but not soon, decisions will be made on how to pare down the list. Sal Romano, Robert Stephenson, Tyler Mahle and Michael Lorenzen are among those competing for spots. Some pitchers will need to be prepped for the big league rotation, big league bullpen or the Triple-A rotation.

"Once the Minor League games start, that helps us. We can flip some of the guys down that we know are going to make the team and they can pitch in some Minor League games to get their work in," Price said. "It gives us an opportunity to let those competing for jobs pitch in the Cactus League games more frequently.

"For whatever reason, my gut is telling me that to boil down this team, it's going to take a while. I think there are some really good players on the board. I think the pitchers came ready to compete for spots, and I don't think there's going to be a lot of easy decisions in the early part of camp unless there is a lack of effort or preparation. We certainly aren't going to base everything on results."

Video: CIN@KC: Price, Romano on four-K outing vs Royals

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, Brandon Finnegan