SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Through two starts this spring, Reds rotation contender Sal Romano has helped his cause with good stuff and good outings. During Cincinnati's 3-2 loss to the Royals on Wednesday, Romano pitched 2 2/3 innings with one earned run, four hits, one walk and four strikeouts."I thought it
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Through two starts this spring, Reds rotation contender Sal Romano has helped his cause with good stuff and good outings. During Cincinnati's 3-2 loss to the Royals on Wednesday, Romano pitched 2 2/3 innings with one earned run, four hits, one walk and four strikeouts.
"I thought it was the best my sinker -- on both sides of the plate -- has ever been," Romano said. "It had a lot, a lot of movement today and was down. I threw some good comeback two-seams to lefties and really got in on righties today. The curveball was really good. The changeup was a little inconsistent. Other than that, I made a lot of good, quality pitches today."
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Two of the hits against Romano came in questionable situations. A two-out double in the first inning was lost in the sun and dropped between the right and center fielders. A bad throw after a grounder to shortstop Nick Senzel was ruled a hit for Alcides Escobar in the third inning.
Through two starts, Romano has allowed two earned runs and six hits over 4 2/3 innings.
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"I thought he threw the ball well, I really did," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He had good action on his fastball. He got a chance to work on controlling the running game, which we spent a lot of time working on with all of our pitchers. He was quick to the plate and did a lot of good things. His stuff was good. I thought he was sharp."
Romano is one of several candidates for the fifth spot in the Reds' rotation.
Finnegan to pitch in scrimmage
Instead of having him pitch vs. the White Sox on Thursday, the Reds have scheduled lefty Brandon Finnegan to work two innings in an intrasquad scrimmage against big league and Minor League hitters.
"We'll just be able to control the workload, which we can't do in a Cactus League game, and if everything goes well, he just plugs right back into the mix," Price said.
Finnegan was limited to four starts last season because of a strain of the teres major muscle near his left shoulder and a dislocated right shoulder that required surgery. That has the club proceeding cautiously.
"He had some rough weather when he was at home, too, so he wasn't able to get out there to make a couple of bullpens," Price said. "I don't want to say he was behind, but it kind of lends itself to being a little bit more cautious.
"Considering he had one [shoulder] worked on and the other was a rehab, it just seemed to make sense."
Not all of the players battling for the last spots on the 25-man roster are prospects rising from within the organization. A couple of standouts were under-the-radar signings to Minor League contracts.
"I've been very impressed with Rosell Herrera and with Mason Williams," Price said. "[They] are two position players that to me have really stood out. I think they've just been terrific. I think there's some guys also I think when you look at a kid like Brandon Dixon, the way he's going about his business, we're seeing limited at-bats, but what I'm also seeing is some growth and kids that are comfortable in competition. That's good to see."
Herrera, 25, spent his entire pro career in the Rockies' organization and reached Triple-A last season. The outfielder batted .278/.351/.394 with three homers and 27 RBIs for Albuquerque. He hit a home run in each of the first two games this spring.
Williams, 26, played parts of the last three seasons with the Yankees and Triple-A. His career seemed poised for liftoff in 2015 until June 19 that season, when he tore the labrum in his right shoulder diving back to first base on a pickoff attempt and missed most of the '16 season.
Through his five games, Williams is 4-for-9 with four doubles.
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.