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Reds claim first baseman Vargas off waivers

MLB.com @m_sheldon

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Reds have often made waiver claims in the final days of Spring Training, and they made another one on Thursday. First baseman Kennys Vargas was claimed off waivers from the Twins.

But unlike claims of past years, like Scooter Gennett or Dan Straily, Vargas' chances of being on the Opening Day roster do not appear likely. At the moment, he is in Puerto Rico with his wife for the birth of their baby.

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Reds have often made waiver claims in the final days of Spring Training, and they made another one on Thursday. First baseman Kennys Vargas was claimed off waivers from the Twins.

But unlike claims of past years, like Scooter Gennett or Dan Straily, Vargas' chances of being on the Opening Day roster do not appear likely. At the moment, he is in Puerto Rico with his wife for the birth of their baby.

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Vargas, 27, is out of Minor League options and would have to clear waivers for the Reds to move him to Triple-A Louisville. He has spent parts of the last four seasons in Minnesota and is a career .252/.311/.437 hitter. Last year, he batted .253/.314/.444 with 11 home runs and 41 RBIs in 78 games.

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Vargas is exclusively a first baseman and has not played another position professionally. He is a switch-hitter and could potentially be a bat off the bench or someone who could possibly replace Joey Votto in the event of an injury.

Video: CIN@TEX: Romano strikes out Chirinos to end the frame

Romano close to making team
Reds pitcher Sal Romano appears to have a rotation spot all but locked up. Romano pitched three innings in Thursday night's 7-6 win over the Rangers and allowed two runs (one earned) with three hits, no walks, a balk and three strikeouts.

The big hit was a leadoff home run to right field by Rougned Odor in the third inning.

"I felt really good. Besides the homer to Odor, stuff was really good," Romano said. "It was a good end of the spring."

In five Cactus League games, Romano has a 3.00 ERA. He also pitched 5 1/3 innings in a Minor League game last Friday. The shorter outing vs. Texas was predetermined.

Romano came into camp as one of the guys on the inside track for the fifth spot in the rotation. Not only did he pitch well, but injuries to Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan and Michael Lorenzen further improved his chances. Earlier on Thursday, struggling Robert Stephenson was optioned to Louisville to make the rotation's makeup even clearer.

"I felt like I came in ready from the beginning," Romano said. "I was able to go out there and pitch the way I needed to do. I feel like I put myself in a pretty good spot to make this club. I am really excited for this opportunity. We'll see what happens."

Over his 15 innings in big league games this spring, Romano has two walks allowed with 18 strikeouts.

"During the pitching summit that we had in January, the challenge we posed to the guys ... we need to know what to expect when you're on the mound," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "The least that we can expect is that you will throw the ball over the plate. Challenging hitters is something he's done most of his career. He did it last year in the big leagues. He's had a terrific spring and he's been really solid."

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, Kennys Vargas