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Turner to stay on as Reds' third catcher

MLB.com @m_sheldon

MILWAUKEE -- When the Reds activate Devin Mesoraco from the disabled list ahead of Friday's series opener with the Cardinals, it looks like they will keep Rule 5 pick Stuart Turner on the 25-man roster. That means the club will carry three catchers, with Mesoraco and Tucker Barnhart getting the bulk of the playing time.

That also signals the Reds are likely to have a seven-man bullpen after carrying either eight or nine relievers for the season's first three-plus weeks. With the rotation struggling to provide innings, fresh arms in the bullpen will be at an even greater premium.

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MILWAUKEE -- When the Reds activate Devin Mesoraco from the disabled list ahead of Friday's series opener with the Cardinals, it looks like they will keep Rule 5 pick Stuart Turner on the 25-man roster. That means the club will carry three catchers, with Mesoraco and Tucker Barnhart getting the bulk of the playing time.

That also signals the Reds are likely to have a seven-man bullpen after carrying either eight or nine relievers for the season's first three-plus weeks. With the rotation struggling to provide innings, fresh arms in the bullpen will be at an even greater premium.

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"We'll have to have some fluency with the sixth and seventh relief spots," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Wednesday morning. "You have to have guys in the Minor Leagues that are ready to flip out if you use a pitcher for an extended period of time and your bullpen is a little beat up. You have to be able to spin those guys around a little bit."

Rules dictate that any player optioned to the Minors must spend at least 10 days down below -- unless there is an injury. That could mean some of the organization's better young pitching prospects could find their way to the Majors if they are fresh.

"[We'll] get them a little closer to being able to service our needs in regards to filling in either the rotation or the bullpen when needed," Price said. "We'd like to increase our pool of guys who are ready to do that. Certainly, there are some kids in Double-A that are pitching well."

Mesoraco completed a 20-day rehab assignment with Double-A Pensacola as the final step on his road back from left shoulder and right hip surgeries. Turner entered Wednesday batting .222 in six games, but he has impressed the club with his defensive skills. A Rule 5 selection must remain on a team for an entire season, or be offered back to their former club.

"He'll also free up that ability to [pinch] hit with whichever catcher is not starting -- Devin or Tucker -- to come off the bench and give us an at-bat earlier in the game," Price said. "If Devin's not starting and they have a lefty out there, I could have him take a pop at somebody. That's a nice thing to have, however, the seven-man bullpen is going to be the challenge until we get more consistent starting pitching."

Ervin optioned to Louisville

As expected, the Reds activated pitcher Rookie Davis from the 10-day disabled list to start against the Brewers. Outfielder Phillip Ervin was optioned to Triple-A Louisville to clear a spot on the roster. Ervin got his first big league callup last week and went 0-for-2 in three games.

"I thought he looked comfortable, he didn't look overwhelmed by the circumstances," Price said. "It was an introduction to what it's like here. That has more value than the playing time, just getting acclimated to the protocols and getting up here and seeing it's not overwhelming."

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.

Cincinnati Reds, Phillip Ervin, Devin Mesoraco