Bell backs Finnegan ahead of crucial year

Left-hander sharp against Giants in bid to return to Majors

February 27th, 2019

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- made his second appearance of the spring Tuesday, throwing a perfect first inning in the Reds’ 4-3 loss to the Giants at Goodyear Ballpark.

“He was just pitching with confidence,” Cincinnati manager David Bell said. “Really good command, making good pitches, good velocity.”

Finnegan retired Cameron Maybin on a popup, caught Joe Panik looking at strike three, then got Austin Slater to fly out to left field to complete the quick inning.

“That’s definitely good to build off of, something to kick-start that confidence back in and take off from there,” Finnegan said. “It’s something I just have to realize is in there, I have to forget about what happened in the past and keep going.”

That past includes a pair of difficult seasons in 2017 and ’18. Finnegan was limited to 13 innings over four starts in 2017 due to injuries, then struggled in 2018 and was sent to Triple-A in early May after posting a 7.40 ERA in five starts. He didn’t fare much better in Louisville, pitching to a 7.05 ERA in 28 appearances (nine starts) following the demotion.

His first outing this spring saw more of the same, as Finnegan allowed two runs in one inning against the Indians on Saturday. He has had conversations with a number of people over the past couple days, including Barry Larkin, to try to get his head in a better place.

“Just realizing who I am, things I’ve done, what I can do,” Finnegan said of those talks. “Knowing that I’m good enough to be here and my stuff plays in the big leagues. I know I belong. They kind of set some stuff into my head, and I took off with it.

The 25-year-old entered this spring fighting for a spot on the Reds’ roster. Even if he doesn’t make the club out of spring, though, the Reds expect he’ll contribute before the year is out. As Bell said of Finnegan on Tuesday, “He’ll have a spot.”

“Our approach is really just to build him up to a point of keeping the options open,” Bell said when asked about a potential role for the left-hander. “Two, three, four innings and kind of seeing where we are, seeing how the staff shapes up. Just allowing him to be in a good spot with his workload to where he can slot in and help us at any point in any role.”

For Finnegan, his exact role is unimportant as long as it’s with the Reds and not at Triple-A.

“Honestly, I don’t care; I just want to be a part of the team and help them win any way I possibly can,” Finnegan said. “I’ve proven myself as a starter and I’ve proven myself as a reliever, so I know I can do both of them in the big leagues. I just have to go out there, prove to them that I’m healthy and can help this team win.”

Worth noting

made his spring debut, going 0-for-2 in his first game since his shoulder surgery last July.

“He was really happy to be out there,” Bell said. “He’s worked so hard to get out there, and he said it just felt great. It was great to see him.”

• Jose Peraza went 2-for-2 Tuesday, maintaining his perfect 1.000 batting average (5-for-5) through two games this spring.

“It is early, but he’s made so much progress over the last couple of years, I think he just continues to gain confidence,” Bell said. “I think he is excited to play because he continues to get better and better.”

, who was scratched from Monday’s game when his wife, Sierra, had to be rushed to the hospital because of a likely kidney stone, was back in the lineup Tuesday. He went 0-for-1 with a walk.

Up next

The Reds travel to Camelback Ranch in Glendale on Wednesday to take on the White Sox at 3:05 p.m. ET. will make his second start, and and will also pitch, making their respective spring debuts.