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Reds looking for ways to play Suarez, Senzel

Club might have newly signed 3B play short or change top prospect's position
MLB.com @m_sheldon

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The signing of third baseman Eugenio Suarez to a seven-year, $66 million contract extension on Friday almost puts to rest the question about the future of the position with Nick Senzel's arrival on the not-too-distant horizon.

Senzel is the organization's top prospect, according to MLBPipeline, and a third baseman as well. But he's been getting most of his time at Spring Training at shortstop. Suarez used to be a shortstop before switching to third base before the 2016 season. General manager Dick Williams hasn't ruled out Suarez making another position change.

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The signing of third baseman Eugenio Suarez to a seven-year, $66 million contract extension on Friday almost puts to rest the question about the future of the position with Nick Senzel's arrival on the not-too-distant horizon.

Senzel is the organization's top prospect, according to MLBPipeline, and a third baseman as well. But he's been getting most of his time at Spring Training at shortstop. Suarez used to be a shortstop before switching to third base before the 2016 season. General manager Dick Williams hasn't ruled out Suarez making another position change.

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"I would say we've made this extension with Suarez, knowing he's an elite third baseman but that he can also play multiple positions," Williams said. "I feel the same way about the future potential of Nick Senzel. I think he's an elite defender that also has the ability to play multiple positions."

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Suarez, who is signed through 2024 with a $15 million club option for 2025, has played parts of three games at shortstop over the past two seasons. Before camp opened, the Reds expected to try Senzel at third base, shortstop, second base and the outfield, before deciding to simplify. He's only played on the left side of the infield this spring.

"If we can compile guys like that, very good offensive players with defensive flexibility, that is the player of the future," Williams said.

Camp battle

There is less than two weeks remaining before Opening Day -- on March 29 vs. the Nationals -- and manager Bryan Price has not named a starting rotation. With the injuries of Anthony DeSclafani (left oblique strain) and Brandon Finnegan (left forearm spasm), the two locks are Homer Bailey and Luis Castillo. Price tipped his hand, somewhat, on Friday morning that Sal Romano and Tyler Mahle are closing in on those three spots.

"With the way Romano and Mahle have thrown in camp, they have certainly put themselves in the lead," Price said. "The way that Amir [Garrett] has thrown has created an opportunity to jump in there and jump into the rotation."

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Romano has a 3.00 ERA in his four Cactus League starts and pitched four innings Friday in a Minor League game, allowing three earned runs, nine hits and one walk while striking out six. Mahle pitched five scoreless innings with two hits against the Indians' frontline lineup during Thursday's 10-6 win, and has a 2.45 ERA in his five games this spring.

Garrett, Robert Stephenson and Michael Lorenzen are still competing for a rotation spot. Lorenzen allowed two runs and three hits over three innings vs. the Brewers on Friday but walked four with one strikeout.

Cody Reed, who was told at the beginning of camp he'd be competing for a bullpen spot, might get a fresh opportunity, when he starts on Saturday vs. the Giants.

Video: CIN@CLE: Mahle discusses his scoreless outing

"I think with the way Romano and Mahle have thrown, they have elevated themselves on the depth chart, for sure," Price said.

Injury report

Second baseman Scooter Gennett was out for a second consecutive day Friday with a sore right shoulder after he was scratched from Thursday's lineup. Gennett did not appear worried that he would be out very long.

"You need to be smart about these kinds of things," Gennett said. "You don't want to start the season not feeling 100 percent. You've got to be smart. In a couple of days, I will be back in there, pain-free."

Gennett wasn't sure how he hurt his shoulder.

"It's not worth an MRI. I passed all of my movement tests," he said. "Right now, it's taking off from throwing and hitting for a day or two and strengthening it and making sure I keep the strength in there while I'm not throwing or hitting."

Kivlehan among latest cuts

The Reds made four more cuts on Friday and they included utility player Patrick Kivlehan, who spent the entire season on the 25-man roster in 2017. Kivlehan, a non-roster player this spring, was re-assigned to the Minor League camp.

Video: CIN@MIL: Kivlehan clubs a towering homer to center

"That was a tough one, the toughest for sure, because I think he's a big league player," Price said. "My feeling is he needs to get some regular playing time because I think he can do a ton of things to help a big league club."

Also re-assigned to the Minor League camp was second baseman Dilson Herrera, catcher Chadwick Tromp and outfielder Darnell Sweeney. Some roster intrigue was reduced on Tuesday, when Herrera, who is out of options, was outrighted off the 40-man roster to Triple-A Louisville. Bailey is the only player in camp out of options.

Up next

Reed will get the ball in the 4:05 p.m. ET game vs. the split-squad Giants on Saturday. It will be a chance to improve his ability to make the 25-man roster in the rotation or bullpen. The game can be heard on an exclusive audio cast.

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, Nick Senzel