Inbox: What lies ahead for Greene, Antone?

Beat reporter Mark Sheldon responds to fans' questions

March 6th, 2021

Saturday marks the first day off for the Reds since Spring Training got rolling about 2 1/2 weeks ago. There have been no roster cuts and it’s still early in the Cactus League schedule, but this is as good of a time as any to answer questions from Reds fans.

Thank you for your questions and for reading. Let’s dive in.

Hunter Greene has to make the Opening Day roster, no Minors until May, right? -- @rubicon20192, on Twitter

Watching Greene pumping 100+ mph fastballs was certainly interesting and I’m sure it had fans salivating. It was impressive to see. But I wouldn’t expect to see him on the Opening Day roster. He hadn’t pitched in competitive games since July 2018 at Class A Dayton before elbow issues and Tommy John surgery knocked him out of action.

The club will do what’s best for Greene’s health and development first. I do think once he gets into games on a regular basis after the Minor League season starts, he could be in the big leagues later in 2021 -- especially if it is determined the 21-year-old could best help the club from the bullpen.

Is Tejay Antone being given a real opportunity to win a rotation spot? In my opinion, he should be penciled in already. Every time this guy pitches, his stuff is off the charts. He looked awesome against the Dodgers [on Wednesday]. Five strikeouts in two innings. – Mike W., on Facebook

Antone is one of the four main candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation, joining Michael Lorenzen, José De León and Jeff Hoffman. Reds manager David Bell and the coaches have raved about Antone since he came up last season.

But from what I’ve been hearing, Antone will also get serious consideration for the bullpen and that seems like the better bet to open the season. The club likes his nasty power stuff and that he’s durable for multiple innings of relief. Because of last year’s 60-game schedule, many starters will be hard-pressed at times to deliver more than five innings a start. Having Antone able to back up a starter -- especially when there’s a Reds lead -- could make him more valuable right now out of the bullpen. That does not rule him out for joining the rotation down the road.

What are your thoughts on  ? If the Reds are waiting on his defensive skills to improve, they may never give him a shot. He was drafted as a catcher six years ago and you would think the learning curve has flattened by now. – Greg E., on Facebook

Stephenson is just about a lock to make the 26-man roster and will split playing time with veteran Tucker Barnhart. He is definitely more of an offensive weapon that Barnhart currently, but his defensive skills have improved quite a bit over the last year-plus.

Does  have any realistic chance of making the team? He was very good when they first got him in the trade [with Kansas City for Johnny Cueto] until things went off the rails a few years back. – Bob C, on Facebook

I would expect Finnegan to be a long shot, unless something happens with another lefty or two ahead of him. Finnegan is not in big league camp and has been off the 40-man roster since 2019. He has spent a lot of time reworking his delivery and trying to find the velocity he lost after arm injuries and other struggles. He had a nice first outing of two scoreless innings in a Cactus League start on Wednesday vs. Oakland and was hitting 93-94 mph on the radar and getting some weak contact. Despite his not faring as well in relief vs. the Royals on Thursday, the club liked what it saw with his stuff -- even as he had to battle through a couple of infield hits and an unearned run allowed with two errors, including one of his own.

However, the Reds will need to see much more success from Finnegan before they give him another chance in the Major Leagues. His numbers were dreadful in 2018 and ’19 in the Minors and he has to show he can be consistent.