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Two rotation hopefuls stung by injury bug

DeSclafani, Finnegan could miss some time, which would hurt Reds' starting depth
MLB.com @alysonfooter

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The strength of the Reds rotation in 2018 is largely going to depend on several pitchers returning from injury, showing they are healthy and prepared to put in a full season.

That plan took a hit on Sunday, and the Reds are suddenly faced with the possibility of opening the season without two pitchers they badly need be healthy and productive.

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- The strength of the Reds rotation in 2018 is largely going to depend on several pitchers returning from injury, showing they are healthy and prepared to put in a full season.

That plan took a hit on Sunday, and the Reds are suddenly faced with the possibility of opening the season without two pitchers they badly need be healthy and productive.

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Before the game, Reds manager Bryan Price revealed right-hander Anthony DeSclafani has a left oblique strain, suffered during his start Friday. An hour later, lefty Brandon Finnegan pitched to just two Mariners batters before he left with a lateral left forearm spasm.

The seriousness of each injury has yet not been determined. DeSclafani could be looking at an extended recovery, given how much time is often required for an oblique strain to fully heal. Price declined to put a timetable on the injury, but acknowledged there are no quick fixes.

"It's one of those things that can be exacerbated if you don't give it enough time," Price said.

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Finnegan's prognosis might not be as grim. After Sunday's 6-5 Reds win over the Mariners, Price said Finnegan's injury could be categorized as a cramp or tightness in the triceps that was affecting his grip.

"I think he could have stayed out there and continued to pitch, but it wouldn't have made any sense," Price said. "So we got him out of there. We think it's a muscular issue, but we'll know more [Monday]."

Even if it's nothing long-term, each day that Finnegan is not building up innings could be another step toward not being ready for Opening Day. He started his spring preparation a little later than his counterparts, and after making just four starts in 2017, he has some catching up to do.

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That doesn't include allotting more time for injuries. Price is hopeful Finnegan won't be sidelined for long.

"I can't say," Price said, of a possible timetable. "Right now when you're not going right to a joint, the elbow or the shoulder in an acute soreness, you hope it's muscular and that you can get him back throwing in relatively short order. We'll see. We'll have a better understanding [Monday] what the injury is and how to treat it."

DeSclafani, who missed two months of 2016 with an oblique strain and the entire 2017 season with an elbow injury, was all but guaranteed a spot in the Reds rotation presuming he came out of Spring Training healthy. The most recent oblique issue happened during his best and longest outing of the spring -- last Friday, when he held the Rangers scoreless for three innings.

Video: TEX@CIN: DeSclafani, Price on his scoreless start

"Total frustration for Anthony and our club," Price said. "I really feel bad for the kid because he's worked his tail off to be ready. This kid has done everything we've asked and more to be ready to go. There's no lack of preparation. He couldn't have done more to be ready to pitch."

The uncertain immediate futures of Finnegan and DeSclafani might give way to several rotation candidates who have been in the mix all spring. Competing for jobs is nothing new for them -- there are just more jobs available now.

Sal Romano seemingly had a leg up on the competition coming into Spring Training and has done nothing to hurt his chances. He's allowed four earned runs over three starts, spanning 12 innings.

Amir Garrett has also pitched well, yielding two earned runs over seven innings, and while Tyler Mahle had one bad outing, yielding three runs over 2 2/3 innings against the Royals, he has otherwise pitched well and is still under consideration for a starting job. Robert Stephenson has been in the mix from the beginning as well.

Video: Garrett on his three strong innings vs. the Giants

Michael Lorenzen, whose destination is more likely the bullpen, helped his starting candidacy on Sunday, throwing three strong innings in relief.

"We keep getting these guys opportunities to pitch and compete for spots," Price said. "I'm hoping it's not a long-term issue with Finnegan. We'll know more in another week or so with [DeSclafani]. But it looks like, without question, we're going to need some resources here."

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

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