GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- One of the main contenders for the rotation's fifth spot -- Sal Romano -- will get the ball first when the Reds open Cactus League play vs. the Indians on Friday (3:05 p.m. ET on MLB.TV).According to manager Bryan Price, another candidate for the rotation, Tyler Mahle,
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- One of the main contenders for the rotation's fifth spot -- Sal Romano -- will get the ball first when the Reds open Cactus League play vs. the Indians on Friday (3:05 p.m. ET on MLB.TV).
According to manager Bryan Price, another candidate for the rotation, Tyler Mahle, will see action on Friday. Jackson Stephens, Kevin Shackelford and Keury Mella are on the list to pitch as well.
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Romano was 5-8 with a 4.45 ERA in 16 starts in the big leagues as a rookie last season. But he secured an inside track for a 2018 rotation spot with his final eight starts, over which he posted a 3.17 ERA.
Robert Stephenson and Michael Lorenzen join Romano and Mahle as competitors for spots in the Reds' rotation.
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Most of the Reds regular position players are expected to be in Friday's starting lineup.
Lorenzen is scheduled to pitch on Saturday vs. the Rockies. On Sunday in split-squad action, Luis Castillo is slated to face the White Sox, while Homer Bailey will pitch against Cleveland.
Reds starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani faced hitters in live batting practice on Wednesday, and Price was impressed.
"I was absolutely thrilled to see Anthony DeSclafani on the mound, and the ball came out beautifully," Price said on Thursday. "He commanded his fastball, slider, changeup and threw a couple of curveballs that were crisp. That was exciting."
DeSclafani missed all of last season with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. In part because he pitched in the fall instructional league after the season, including seven innings and 90 pitches in his final start, there are no restrictions on the right-hander.
"He has had zero issues with it in the offseason. He's been completely checked out," Price said. "I don't think we can do anything more to prepare him for his first start. Then he'll have a common workload."
Price was happy with all of the pitchers he saw on Wednesday -- including starter Castillo.
"There wasn't a guy who wasn't sharp. I saw them all," Price said. "Everyone was throwing good quality strikes.
Suarez tracking pitches
Relievers Jared Hughes and David Hernandez, who were each signed to two-year contracts as offseason free agents, threw on Wednesday. Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez faced both right-handers.
Suarez was working on his timing and doing more tracking of pitches than hitting.
"I swung a couple of times. I didn't want to swing. Hughes has a big sinker, and I didn't want to break my hand," Suarez said.
Shorter time before games
Friday's Cactus League opener comes just four days after the Reds' first full-squad workout on Monday. The team began having its hitters face pitchers on Tuesday and Wednesday. The schedule before games began was accelerated across MLB this year to accommodate an earlier Opening Day date on March 29, resulting in fewer workout days.
"It's interesting to see how hitters react," Price said. "You usually have a lot more live BP or at least dead-arm BP, where coaches throw, before they get to their first games. I'll be interested to see what their timing looks like."
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.