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Ervin, Gosselin claim Opening Day roster spots

Reds' position players set, leaving bullpen as final area to address
MLB.com @m_sheldon

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Another series of Spring Training cuts made on Sunday by the Reds have set their 13 position players into place and have left only a couple more questions over who will make the 25-man roster for Opening Day.

Infielder Alex Blandino and left-handed pitcher Cody Reed were optioned to Triple-A Louisville. Infielder/outfielder Brandon Dixon, outfielder Sebastian Elizalde and catcher Tony Cruz were reassigned to the Minor League camp. Outfielder Ben Revere, who was a roster cut on Thursday, has opted out for his release.

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Another series of Spring Training cuts made on Sunday by the Reds have set their 13 position players into place and have left only a couple more questions over who will make the 25-man roster for Opening Day.

Infielder Alex Blandino and left-handed pitcher Cody Reed were optioned to Triple-A Louisville. Infielder/outfielder Brandon Dixon, outfielder Sebastian Elizalde and catcher Tony Cruz were reassigned to the Minor League camp. Outfielder Ben Revere, who was a roster cut on Thursday, has opted out for his release.

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"I think our position players are in order," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "What we are doing is trying to define the final spots in the bullpen. We'll make sure we answer our health questions and put together that best group of eight to start the season."

Outfielder Phillip Ervin and non-roster utility player Phil Gosselin have been told they made the team. They will join catcher Devin Mesoraco, shortstop Cliff Pennington and whoever the fourth person in the daily outfield rotation is on the five-man bench.

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Amir Garrett will be on the team as a swingman to open the season. Garrett would make the first start in the turn of the fifth starter on April 8 or 9 if Brandon Finnegan isn't ready.

Non-roster invite Kevin Quackenbush has been told he has made Cincinnati's bullpen. Quackenbush did not allow an earned run in his first seven appearances before he gave up three runs on Friday vs. the Rockies.

"It's a huge relief, a huge weight off my shoulders," Quackenbush said. "Pretty ecstatic. I had a big smile on my face, that's for sure."

Other bullpen contenders will have to wait until after breaking camp to learn if they will join Quackenbush. Zack Weiss, Austin Brice and non-roster pitcher Vance Worley still remain on the bubble as the team heads to Texas for exhibition games vs. the Rangers on Monday and Tuesday. The landscape was altered Sunday when lefty Justin Nicolino was claimed off waivers from the Marlins.

Locked in for the eight-man Reds' Opening Day bullpen are Raisel Iglesias, Wandy Peralta, Jared Hughes, Quackenbush and Garrett. That leaves either two or three spots.

Video: ARI@CIN: Garrett K's four in scoreless outing

Affecting the final bullpen decisions are health concerns for David Hernandez, who has been bothered by right shoulder stiffness.

Ervin, the Reds' No. 23 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, will be the fifth outfielder and was chosen over Cruz, who would have been a third catcher.

"I think more than anything is we really don't have much bench speed," Price said. "I think that's a component I'd like to have. Maybe it will be considered a luxury after too long. Erv had a nice camp, and he answers the bell in that regard."

Price felt that Gosselin's versatility and experience as a pinch-hitter will benefit the club.

"He fits the role," Price said. "If you need him to go in there and play second or third or some left field, we're comfortable with that for a period of time. I feel confident he'll give a good at-bat against a left- or right-handed pitcher and [can] hit the better guys later in the game."

Starting pitchers Anthony DeSclafani and Finnegan and relievers Michael Lorenzen and Kevin Shackelford will begin the season on the disabled list.

Still to be determined is the moves to get Gosselin, Pennington, Quackenbush and, potentially, Worley on the 40-man roster. Cincinnati has two openings on its 40-man.

One other consideration is if the Reds make another waiver claim, which they often have done at the end of camp. That's how they acquired Scooter Gennett last year, Dan Straily two years ago and Nicolino on Sunday.

"I talked about that with some of those guys. The caveat we have is anything can happen with the waiver stuff," Price said. "You hate to tell someone they're on the team and have to come back a few days later and say we made a claim that's going to affect your spot on the roster."

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, Phillip Ervin, Phil Gosselin