GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Reds made nine cuts on Thursday that have brought the makeup of the Opening Day roster into clearer focus.Starting pitcher Robert Stephenson and reliever Jackson Stephens were optioned to Triple-A Louisville. Veteran left-handed reliever Oliver Perez was released. Six players -- outfielders Ben Revere and Mason
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Reds made nine cuts on Thursday that have brought the makeup of the Opening Day roster into clearer focus.
Starting pitcher Robert Stephenson and reliever Jackson Stephens were optioned to Triple-A Louisville. Veteran left-handed reliever Oliver Perez was released. Six players -- outfielders Ben Revere and Mason Williams, relievers Tanner Rainey and Dylan Floro, infielder Rosell Herrera and catcher Joe Hudson -- were reassigned to Minor League camp.
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With the claiming of first baseman Kennys Vargas off waivers from the Twins, the Reds have 36 players left in camp, plus Rookie Davis on the 60-day disabled list. The club also has 39 players on its 40-man roster.
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"There is still one or two spots -- maybe one in the bullpen and one on the bench -- that there still an open competition," Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Price wasn't ready to name which players made the team. Those players have not been informed, yet.
"I'd like to do that sooner rather than later to take the heat off them. These are stressful days for everybody, certainly not only the front office and the manager, even more so for the players," Price said. "The caveat always is that as we've done with [Scooter] Gennett as we've done with [Dan] Straily as we've done with Alfredo Simon, there are certain times I'd hate to tell guys they've made the club only to find that day before season that they've lost a job to a waiver claim."
But Thursday's moves mean that the starting rotation has been nearly finalized. With Stephenson cut and Michael Lorenzen shut down from throwing because of a strained right teres major muscle, the starting five to open the season appears to be Homer Bailey, Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, Sal Romano and either Amir Garrett or Brandon Finnegan.
A fifth starter isn't needed until April 9, and that would give Finnegan (left forearm spasm) a chance to get ready to make that start. He is scheduled to start on Saturday vs. the Padres. In the meantime, Garrett can be a swing man that opens the season in the bullpen and could start if Finnegan isn't ready.
The bench will consist of catcher Devin Mesoraco and Jesse Winker (or whoever the fourth outfielder is on a given day). In the battle for the three other spots are shortstop Cliff Pennington, utility infielder Phil Gosselin, infielder Alex Blandino, infielder/outfielder Brandon Dixon and outfielders Phillip Ervin and Sebastian Elizalde. From this group, only Blandino and Ervin are on the 40-man roster.
The outcome of the bullpen battle remains the murkiest. Four locked spots belong to Raisel Iglesias, Wandy Peralta, Jared Hughes and David Hernandez. That should leave three spots and there are still six relievers in the mix among right-handers Austin Brice, Kevin Quackenbush, Kevin Shackelford, Zack Weiss and Vance Worley and left-hander Cody Reed. Garrett could fit in the bullpen if he's not starting. Reed, Brice, Shackelford and Weiss are on the 40-man roster.
What's definite is that there is no room for Perez, who was signed to a Minor League contract on Feb. 24. In his seven games, the 36-year-old posted a 13.50 ERA.
"I anticipate Wandy being there, I think it's very reasonable that we'll have another left-hander in our bullpen," Price said. "I just didn't see us having the ability of having the luxury of having that specialist. I think Oliver Perez is going to land on his feet with somebody. He still has plenty of arm left."
Revere, who was signed on Feb. 26, has an opt-out in his Minor League deal that he can depart if he didn't make the team. It remains to be seen if the Lexington, Ky., native would accept an assignment to Louisville.
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.