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Despite malleable role, Iglesias is Reds' closer

MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Entering Spring Training, Reds manager Bryan Price envisioned a bullpen with no defined roles that would allow him to use his best relievers in any high-leverage situation -- regardless of how early in the game it might be.

Price has utilized the combination of Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, Drew Storen and Wandy Peralta in the later innings most often. However, it's become clear that Iglesias is as close to being the Reds' closer as one can be without actually be formally named a closer. The right-hander is 12-for-12 in save chances after securing Thursday's 5-2 win over the Cardinals, while the three other relievers each have one save. Iglesias has finished 21 games out of 25 appearances.

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CINCINNATI -- Entering Spring Training, Reds manager Bryan Price envisioned a bullpen with no defined roles that would allow him to use his best relievers in any high-leverage situation -- regardless of how early in the game it might be.

Price has utilized the combination of Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, Drew Storen and Wandy Peralta in the later innings most often. However, it's become clear that Iglesias is as close to being the Reds' closer as one can be without actually be formally named a closer. The right-hander is 12-for-12 in save chances after securing Thursday's 5-2 win over the Cardinals, while the three other relievers each have one save. Iglesias has finished 21 games out of 25 appearances.

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"He's our closer when he's available, and unless we get into a situation like we have a few times with Lorenzen where I've used him for two or three innings to kind of try and save the game in the middle," Price said on Thursday. "If Iggy's our freshest arm and I can use him somewhere in the middle innings or middle-late to try to save the game right there, I'll continue to have that option.

"The thing about setup guys and closers is typically they're used on the same day. I'm not at all reluctant to use Michael or Drew or Tony Cingrani or Wandy to close out a game."

Iglesias hasn't allowed a run in his past 19 games and 20 innings pitched. Overall, he has a 0.57 ERA with three runs (two earned), 15 hits, 13 walks and 38 strikeouts over 31 1/3 innings.

Last season, Iglesias was the Reds' Opening Day starter, but he went on the disabled list with a shoulder injury after five starts. When he returned six weeks later, he was moved to the bullpen.

"I feel really good right now. I'm just going to go out there and do my job. I just want to help the team to win. Everything is for the team," Iglesias said via translator Julio Morillo. "I feel really comfortable back in the bullpen. This is what I was expecting."

While Iglesias has most often pitched the ninth and been the final reliever used -- especially in wins -- Price would still use him in the fifth or sixth innings if the situation called for it.

"If I have Iglesias there and available, I'll use him in that [ninth-inning] spot unless there's that emergency spot earlier where it just makes more sense to try to bring him in to quell the fire," Price said.

Worth noting

• Lefty starter Brandon Finnegan, who is working back from a teres major muscle strain near his left shoulder, will begin a rehab assignment on Monday with Double-A Pensacola. Finnegan will be joining Homer Bailey (right elbow), who is scheduled to begin his rehab assignment with Pensacola on Friday.

"I think both of them [could return] by the end of the month," Price said. "That would be realistic. It's not written in stone, but I think by the end of the month, we could have both Finnegan and Homer in our rotation."

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.

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