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Romano happy with command in spring debut

Reds' rotation candidate allows two hits in two-inning start
MLB.com @m_sheldon

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- For the second spring in a row, Reds right-handed pitcher Sal Romano is trying for a spot in the big league rotation. Romano was pleased with the results following his two-inning start vs. the Indians on Friday.

In the 6-4 Reds win, Romano allowed one earned run and two hits with no walks and one strikeout. Yonder Alonso led off the bottom of the second by slugging a first-pitch fastball to right field for a home run.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- For the second spring in a row, Reds right-handed pitcher Sal Romano is trying for a spot in the big league rotation. Romano was pleased with the results following his two-inning start vs. the Indians on Friday.

In the 6-4 Reds win, Romano allowed one earned run and two hits with no walks and one strikeout. Yonder Alonso led off the bottom of the second by slugging a first-pitch fastball to right field for a home run.

"It felt really good," Romano said. "It was nice to get back out there, obviously. It's been a long time being able to face hitters and all of my stuff felt great. I was throwing a lot of strikes. It was most important that my fastball command was good."

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Romano, 24, is competing for the fifth spot in the rotation with Robert Stephenson, Tyler Mahle, Michael Lorenzen and others.

Charged with becoming more adept at using his secondary pitches, Romano said he threw three curveballs -- all for strikes -- and mixed in two changeups.

"It was a really successful day," Romano said.

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Siri injured at wall

Reds center-field prospect Jose Siri crashed hard into the wall trying to catch a drive from Cleveland's Richie Shaffer in the bottom of the eighth inning. The No. 22 prospect in the organization according to MLB Pipeline, Siri spent several moments down on the warning track and was looked over by head trainer Steve Baumann and manager Bryan Price before walking off of the field under his own power.

"I think he pinned back his thumb on his left hand and knocked the wind out of him going into the wall," Price said. "He was catching his breath. … I am hoping he will be fine. I don't think it's terribly serious, we'll see."

Battle for the bench

While having four outfielders slated to play regularly in a rotation in Billy Hamilton, Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler and Jesse Winker, Price hasn't ruled out carrying a true fifth outfielder for the bench, but the spot could also go to a utility player able to play both infield and outfield.

Either way, Price was hopeful he could have 12 pitchers and 13 position players for the roster.

"I really would like to be able to carry a five-man bench throughout the season," Price said. "We've been in a position where we've had to rotate bullpen pieces because of some short starts or extra innings. I think we may have to have some movable pieces in the sixth and seventh spots of the bullpen -- guys we can flip back and forth between Triple-A and the big leagues to always have a fresh arm.

"But I think we're a better club when we can have that bench flexibility to maybe carry a true fifth outfielder and still feel covered with a player that can play multiple positions, including shortstop and play it at a high level defensively. Yeah, I would think they are both in play."

That could benefit Phil Gosselin, a non-roster invite able to play multiple positions. It also bodes well for outfielder Phillip Ervin, who can play all three spots.

"There will be some tough decisions and that's a good thing," Price said.

Herrera's program

Dilson Herrera, who is one of those battling for a bench spot and is out of Minor League options, will alternate starting as the designated hitter and at second base in the early slate of games. Herrera had right shoulder surgery on Aug. 1.

"We are still in protocols where he has heavy throwing days and then he backs off," Price said. "We're going to continue to do that until he's given the release from the training staff that he can play every day at a position."

Herrera has been taking ground balls and making throws from third base lately.

"So there could be some opportunities to play a little bit of third this spring. That would certainly add to his value," Price said.

Worth noting

• Stephenson is tentatively slated to pitch on Monday vs. the D-backs, but the spot is still listed as TBA. The right-hander is dealing with a sore neck.

Up next

The Reds have their Cactus League "home" opener when they face the Rockies at 3:05 p.m. ET in Goodyear on Saturday on Gameday Audio. Lorenzen will start and be followed by Cody Reed, Dylan Floro, Kyle Crockett and Ariel Hernandez.

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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