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Inbox: Who has edge for 5th rotation spot?

Reds reporter Mark Sheldon fields fans' questions
MLB.com @m_sheldon

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- We have less than three weeks remaining before the Reds open the season vs. the Nationals on March 29. That means there is no better time than now to have the first Reds Inbox of Spring Training.

Who would you give the edge in the competition for the 5th rotation spot right now?
-- Nick Howell (@Nick_Howell2)

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- We have less than three weeks remaining before the Reds open the season vs. the Nationals on March 29. That means there is no better time than now to have the first Reds Inbox of Spring Training.

Who would you give the edge in the competition for the 5th rotation spot right now?
-- Nick Howell (@Nick_Howell2)

It's hard to base it all on results, but Sal Romano came into camp on the inside track along with Robert Stephenson. And although his 4.50 ERA isn't superlative in a short sample size, Romano has done nothing through three starts to show he doesn't deserve the job. He's commanded all of his pitches well and he hasn't given up a ton of hard contact.

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Stephenson did not perform well in his first two games, but he is coming off of a three-scoreless-innings appearance on Thursday. Amir Garrett has certainly pitched himself into consideration for a rotation or bullpen spot. Tyler Mahle has also pitched well with the exception of one outing.

Is there any concern on Brandon Finnegan getting up to full speed by OD?
-- Mike Petry (@imtheMDP)

Finnegan was not concerned at all about whether he'd have enough time following his two-inning Cactus League debut vs. the Indians on Tuesday. But on a couple of occasions, manager Bryan Price has indicated the left-hander has not been locked in for a rotation spot. He'll have to build up his workload and also perform well. His next start is on Sunday and I'd expect him to pitch three innings.

Video: CLE@CIN: Finnegan on his first spring outing

If B. Ham doesn't lead off will he likely bat 8th again? And if so would Peraza lead off?
-- John Belanger (@ItmightbeJB)

I think Price will initially give Billy Hamilton the opportunity to remain in the leadoff spot. But if Hamilton struggles his way out of the top, I'd expect him to bat ninth like he did for 59 starts in 2015 and 13 starts in '16. Peraza would seem to be a candidate to leadoff if he can improve his selectivity and on-base percentage. The other prime candidate is someone who has historically had no trouble getting on base as a professional -- Jesse Winker.

This relates to the previous question. While Price will give Hamilton opportunity to remain in the top spot, and absolutely loves his defensive ability, I don't think it means the center fielder has carte blanche with the club to stay in the lineup if he doesn't hit. At some point, the four-man rotation of outfielders will sort itself out to three regulars. If someone is continually not performing, that person might be sitting more.

If Senzel gets called up to play SS in the summer where does he hit?
-- Ryan Feyh (@ryan_feyh)

There's putting the cart before the horse, and then there's putting it 10 miles before the horse like you just did. First Nick Senzel needs to be called up. Then the Reds need to figure out where he will play because it's not a lock it's at shortstop. After that, Price can determine where to write Senzel's name in the lineup.

The Spring Training standings aren't good, but it's hard to put too much stock in the records. Over the years, I've seen a lot of exhibition games end on walk-off hits by a Minor League camp player wearing No. 90 off a pitcher wearing No. 88. Does that really matter in the big picture? Last year, the Cubs had the second-worst record in the Cactus League and no one cared. In the regular season, they won 92 games and the National League Central.

That doesn't mean Price hasn't been irritated about some of what he's seen this spring. He's on record about seeing some overall sloppy play and some young players playing tight. The hitting has perked up in the past few games.

Do any of our current Reds call Cincinnati home full time?
-- Brad (@ThatSchoolcraft)

Not full time, no. A few players -- like Joey Votto and Devin Mesoraco -- have homes in Greater Cincinnati. Some will spend parts of their offseason in town and use Great American Ball Park to do workouts. Players coming off of injuries or surgery might stay in Cincinnati and spend time at Beacon Orthopedic for rehab.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006.

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