Antone, Naquin, trio of relievers make roster

March 29th, 2021

Reds pitcher hasn’t appeared in a Cactus League game since March 14 because of injuries. But Antone still got enough work in and was told he was breaking camp with the club as a key reliever.

“Very, very exciting,” Antone said on Monday. “It was a goal of mine to make the Opening Day roster. It was slightly almost taken away from me with the injury. … My family is coming up to watch. They’re going to be there Opening Day. It’s a 'finally happening' kind of thing.”

Antone exited his last game vs. the Padres with a mild right groin strain. On March 20, he abruptly stopped throwing in a bullpen session because of a right hip flexor irritation unrelated to the groin injury.

On Saturday, Antone threw to hitters in a "B" game and felt good.

“I didn’t feel anything at all. Punched three tickets, so I’m ready to go,” Antone said. “I feel like I got plenty of reps for the role that I’m going into right now. Built up to four innings, took two weeks off, and threw another inning. I think I probably ended up having 14 innings in Spring Training. So, if you look at any other reliever, they probably have something similar or less.”

Antone came to camp competing for a rotation spot, but manager David Bell showed some preference to use the right-hander as a multi-innings or late-innings option. When Antone didn’t get any starts the last couple of weeks, it clinched his status as a reliever to open the regular season.

Over two stints as a rookie last season, Antone was 0-3 with a 2.80 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 13 games for Cincinnati that included four starts.

Good news for Pérez, Bedrosian, Romano, and Naquin

Four more players -- lefty reliever Cionel Pérez, righty relievers Cam Bedrosian and Sal Romano and outfielder Tyler Naquin were told they would be on the Opening Day roster on Monday. Since Bedrosian and Naquin were non-roster players, their contracts were selected to add them to the 40-man roster.

Cincinnati also made three cuts: Infielder Mike Freeman and relievers Heath Hembree and Braden Shipley were re-assigned to the Minor League camp.

Pérez, acquired from the Astros in the offseason, had a 1.69 ERA in 10 appearances this spring.

“It feels awesome. It feels great,” Pérez said via translator Jorge Merlos. “All that hard work I put into the offseason into Spring Training, you can tell that all of this has paid off really well. I hope that it doesn’t just end here, it continues on into the season and I’ll be able to throw strikes and get people out.”

Bedrosian, the son of former Major League pitcher Steve Bedrosian, had a 4.15 ERA and 0.69 WHIP in eight games, but was second on the club this spring with 16 strikeouts against 32 batters with three hits allowed over 8 2/3 innings.

“I knew I had to come in and prove myself, be at my best to make this team,” Bedrosian said. “There is a lot of good competition here. Guys have been throwing well from top to bottom. The big thing was just be myself. Kind of go out there and do what I know I can do. Just let the numbers or whatever fall where they are.”

Romano is back for his second opener, and first since 2018. This time, it will be as a reliever after he posted a 6.48 ERA in eight games. Six of those appearances were scoreless, however, including a perfect inning vs. the Cubs on Saturday.

“I really did feel like I was in a good spot and it was just really putting it all together,” Romano said. “My last outing, I really showed that. I wanted to give them a good taste in their mouth before making decisions. I feel like I was able to do that and I’m really excited to be a Red. I’m really excited to be with those guys in this clubhouse. It’s fun and I’m really, really excited for Opening Day.”

Formerly with Cleveland, Naquin was signed to a Minor League deal on Feb. 18 and batted .310/.375/.667 with three homers -- eight extra-base hits -- and seven RBIs.

“I know that if I’m healthy and able to stay on the field, I have no doubt that I can be here to stay and help these guys do what we all get together to do, and that’s win,” Naquin said. “My thing is going out there being on time looking to barrel the baseball. Good things happen whenever you do that.”

Bell returns to team

Manager David Bell was back in camp and joined the club in the dugout for Monday’s game. Bell had been away since his brother, Twins bench coach Mike Bell, died on Friday from cancer.

“The guys, everybody got to talk to him,” bench coach Freddie Benavides said. “It’s good to see him there and be at the game again. It’s an escape for him, so we’re glad to have him back.”

Votto, Senzel back in the lineup

Following a day off on Sunday, first baseman Joey Votto was back in the lineup as he tries to catch up for Opening Day after missing time with COVID-19. Votto was 1-for-4 and played eight innings in the 5-5 tie vs. the Mariners. He hit a deep drive to the left-field warning track for an out in the fourth inning, reached on a two-base error by the center fielder in the fifth and lined a long single off the right-field wall in the eighth.

“He told David during the game that he felt really, really good today after the off-day,” Benavides said. “That’s why he was pushed. He wanted to get four at-bats. He wanted to go nine. He really did. But he was good enough after that fourth at-bat, and we’ll see what happens this week, next couple of days.”

Center fielder Nick Senzel, who missed the previous three games with a mild left groin strain, was back in the lineup and went 1-for-2 against Seattle.