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Reds reassign 5 players to Minor League camp

@m_sheldon
March 18, 2019

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Reds' latest round of Spring Training roster moves on Monday morning featured no surprises, but still carried a notable name. Left-handed pitcher Brandon Finnegan was unable to regain his form after two mostly lost seasons and was among the five players re-assigned to Minor League camp.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Reds' latest round of Spring Training roster moves on Monday morning featured no surprises, but still carried a notable name. Left-handed pitcher Brandon Finnegan was unable to regain his form after two mostly lost seasons and was among the five players re-assigned to Minor League camp.

Joining Finnegan were right-handed pitchers Vladimir Gutierrez and Jesus Reyes, left-handed pitcher Buddy Boshers and infielder Christian Colon.

In six spring games, including one starts, Finnegan had a 19.80 ERA with nine hits, six walks and eight strikeouts over five innings. He gave up four earned runs over two-thirds of an inning in both of his last two appearances.

“I think there’s points in everybody’s career where it’s kind of a turning point,” Reds manager David Bell said. “I told Brandon, and I firmly believe he is right there. At times, he may not have had the results that he wanted. Just really a couple of weeks ago, he’s right in the mix to be on this team. That doesn’t change in two weeks. He still is.”

Finnegan tied for the team lead with 31 starts in 2016 while posting a 3.98 ERA. In 2017, he was limited to four starts because of a strained lat and then a strained teres major muscle near his shoulder. Last season, the 25-year-old was 0-3 with a 7.40 ERA in five starts before being demoted to Triple-A Louisville. There, he was 2-10 with a 7.05 ERA in 28 games, including nine starts.

“He’s already done it, which is a huge advantage. He knows how to do it,” Bell said. "It’s just getting back to that. Sometimes it feels so far away. Looking at him from the outside, looking at him, it’s so close. That was the big message to him.”

Gutierrez, 23, is ranked as the organization’s No. 8 prospect according to MLB Pipeline and may have opened the most eyes during a mostly impressive camp. He had a 6.75 ERA in five games, with two starts, but only allowed earned runs in one game -- five -- over 1 2/3 innings on March 8 vs. the Royals. It’s likely he will begin this season in Louisville.

“I think Vladdy had a great spring,” Bell said. “It gave us a great opportunity to see what he was capable of. He brought up the question, ‘Is he going to make this team’, quite a few times. In the end, we want to do what’s best for him. He put himself in a really good position. He’s super close to where he needs to be.”

Wood throws in bullpen

Reds left-handed starting pitcher Alex Wood (sore lower back) returned to a mound on Monday and threw in a side bullpen session at the team complex. Wood hasn’t pitched in a Cactus League game since his lone start on Feb. 25 and will not be ready for the start of the regular season.

“No timetable for when he’ll be pitching in the Major Leagues again, but early-to-mid April would be [the target] if everything goes perfect. That’s pretty good news, really, looking at the big picture,” Bell said. “I think that would be pushing a little too hard to get him ready by Opening Day.”

Mahle hit hard

A likely candidate to replace Wood in the rotation, Tyler Mahle, had his first rough outing of spring in Monday’s 6-3 loss to the Rockies. Mahle pitched four innings and gave up four earned runs and seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts.

Several of the hits against Mahle were barreled, including Ryan McMahon’s homer to straightaway center field leading off the second inning.

“It wasn’t good. A lot of hard-hit balls and bad pitches,” Mahle said. “Nothing was coming out of my hand right.”

It was the first runs Mahle allowed in four Cactus League games, leaving him with a 3.60 ERA. He feels ready for the regular season and has been pleased with the ongoing development of his secondary pitches -- a curveball and a hybrid split-finger/changeup pitch.

“I’m still excited about everything,” Mahle said. “Bad outings are going to happen, and stuff isn’t going to feel good in your hand one day. Sure enough the last hitter, [Nolan] Arenado, I threw him three really good curveballs and then I’m out of there because of four innings and my pitch count.”

Following the game, Bell stopped just short of saying Mahle made the team.

“He’s right there, definitely,” Bell said. “Coming into this spring, we knew how important he was for this team. So yeah, I think he’s right there."

Up next

The Reds will host the White Sox in Tuesday’s 9:05 p.m. ET game at Goodyear Ballpark. Much of the regular lineup is expected to play deep into the game, including Joey Votto, while Lucas Sims is scheduled as the starting pitcher.

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.