GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The conspiracy theorists did not take long to connect some dots -- real or imagined -- when the Reds hired John Farrell as a scout this week. Is the former Red Sox skipper a vulture surveying the scene? Did the temperature of current Cincinnati manager Bryan Price's
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The conspiracy theorists did not take long to connect some dots -- real or imagined -- when the Reds hired John Farrell as a scout this week. Is the former Red Sox skipper a vulture surveying the scene? Did the temperature of current Cincinnati manager Bryan Price's seat just jump a few degrees?
There is little doubt that Farrell wants to one day manage again at the Major League level, but for now his arrival in this role has an important advocate in Price himself. The truth, which often tends to be quite a bit more boring than the theories, is that the kind of fresh evaluative perspective an accomplished baseball person like Farrell can bring to a rebuilding organization is a benefit to all involved.
"We hired [former A's and now Giants pitching coach] Curt Young last year to do a similar job," Price said. "I think it's a good move. You don't have to worry about draft status, prospect status or any preconceived ideas on what the player should be based on his status on the 40-man roster or where he was drafted. Just go see a baseball team and identify who you really like. Or maybe you see a player nobody else sees."
The dirty truth is that organizations often overvalue their own talent, fall in love with the folks they scouted and groomed. It's human nature. So an external-turned-internal resource like Farrell, who has worked in various facets of the game from farm director to pitching coach to manager, changes the scope of the evaluations.
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Cincinnati's Arizona neighbors and Thursday opponent, the Indians, have a similar setup with former Reds pitcher Tim Belcher.
"It's helpful," said Tribe manager Terry Francona, a close friend of Farrell, "because they look at guys and they don't have to say the company line."
So before we get too deep into the woods with the Farrell conspiracy theories, understand the actual -- or at the very, very least, initial -- intent of this addition. The Reds brought Farrell aboard to eye up their players, not Price's position.
We've reached the stage of the spring in which outings are more elongated and results are more meaningful for those competing for one of the Reds' rotation vacancies. And on Thursday, when Cincinnati beat the Indians, 10-6, right-hander Tyler Mahle had the most elongated and one of the most successful starts of Cincinnati's spring season.
Mahle went five effective and efficient (66 pitches) innings, allowing no runs or walks and just two hits. It was a start that could be a separator as the Reds determine who is going to fill out the rotation beyond Homer Bailey and Luis Castillo.
"He was sensational," Price said. "I don't think he could have done any better."
With Anthony DeSclafani on the shelf, Brandon Finnegan possibly not ready for the start of the season (more on that below), opportunity abounds, and Mahle, who showed improvement with his changeup against the Tribe, seems to be seizing it.
"I always go out and I want to hit my spots," he said. "I want to throw good pitches and be efficient. That's what I ultimately care about in every start, even during the season. When you do that, for the most part, your line is going to look pretty good."
It looked good Thursday, and so do Mahle's chances of landing a rotation spot.
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It did not take Finnegan long to resume throwing after leaving Sunday's start with a biceps strain. He played catch on Wednesday.
But when Finnegan will resume throwing from a mound was not yet decided as of Thursday morning.
"He had minimal soreness [from the catch session], which we anticipated would be the case," Price said. "We expect that to decrease with each day, but, until it's gone, he won't be back out on the mound. We're hoping another couple days of catch. But he will be off the mound throwing a bullpen before we schedule him back into a game."
Each day that passes without Finnegan on the upcoming game schedule naturally increases the odds of him opening the season on the disabled list. He'll have to build up his pitch count once he resumes throwing in games.
In other injury news, second baseman Scooter Gennett was initially in Thursday's lineup vs. the Indians but was scratched with right shoulder soreness. Though the injury is not considered serious, Gennett is expected to rest for a couple days to ensure the soreness goes away.
It will be a National League Central showdown when the Reds play host to the Brewers at 4:05 p.m. ET on Friday, with right-hander Michael Lorenzen opposing left-hander Wade Miley. Lorenzen has a 9.45 ERA this spring but continues to get stretched out in the event that he lands a starting spot with the club after two seasons in the bullpen. Jackson Stephens, Jimmy Herget, Tanner Rainey, Kevin Shackelford and Kevin Quackenbush are also scheduled to throw. The game will be broadcast live via exclusive webcast.
Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcasts and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.