Reed competing for bullpen spot this spring

Price says Reds still see lefty as starter over the long haul

February 14th, 2018

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- During Reds Caravan late last month, manager Bryan Price took pitcher aside. Reed, who is primarily a starter, was told by Price he would not be included in the battle for the club's fifth spot in the starting rotation.

Instead, Reed is in the mix for a spot in the bullpen.

"As long as I get the opportunity, that's all I need," Reed said Wednesday. "I need someone to take a chance and I'm really ready to fill the spot. If I do get stretched out and have a good spring, who knows? Maybe I can go back to the guy that I was when they traded for me in '15."

Reed was one of three young lefty starting pitcher prospects acquired from the Royals for on July 26, 2015. Reed was electric during Spring Training in '16, but he hasn't been able to duplicate the success during the regular season.

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In 22 career games for the Reds between 2016-17, including 11 starts, Reed is 1-8 with a 6.75 ERA. Last season, all but one of his 12 games for Cincinnati was in long relief.

Reed was 4-9 with a 3.55 ERA in 21 games (20 starts) for Triple-A Louisville in 2017. Command was frequently an issue for him, though, as he led the International League in wild pitches and hit batters and ranked third in walks. In the Majors, he walked 19 in 17 2/3 innings.

"Our goals with Cody are to regain and then surpass the command of his three pitches -- the fastball, slider and changeup," Price said. "We will continue to work on controlling the running game.

"We all love this kid and think he can be a Major League starting pitcher right now. With where we are with our group, the most realistic spot for him to help us right now would be in the bullpen, but that's not long term. We haven't committed to saying this guy is a relief pitcher for the rest of his career by any means."

Reed, who turns 25 on April 15, spent most of his offseason in Arizona trying to improve his changeup and the overall command of his pitches.

"Especially when I'm just playing catch, I've worked on staying on top of the ball and trying to backspin it as much as possible," Reed said. "It's really helped me with my [bullpen sessions]. It's really helped with my daily routine to kind of have muscle memory and repeat it over and over."

Staying on top of the ball has helped keep Reed's pitches from being flat and running too far off the plate. It's also helped him keep from pulling his head during his delivery, which may have contributed to his command issues.

If Reed makes the club out of Spring Training, Price envisioned him having an elevated role in the bullpen. The Reds currently have one other returning lefty in .

"If he's here in our bullpen, he should be pitching with some regularity. Or he should be starting in Triple-A," Price said. "He needs to be pitching wherever he is and whatever role he's in. A length guy, we did that last year for a bit and I thought he did the role fairly well. But I think we would need to get him in some higher leverage situation than long relief -- with the ability to throw some length when needed."