Projecting the Reds' Opening Day roster
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds Spring Training is nearing the end, and roster battles are about to reach their crescendo as players on the bubble compete to be among the 26 players who are active for Opening Day.
As of Friday, 45 players remained in big league camp.
Here is my updated prediction for whom the Reds will have when they take the field on March 30 vs. the Pirates.
Catcher (3): Tyler Stephenson, Curt Casali, Luke Maile
This situation remains the same and all three catchers continue to get time behind the plate this spring. Stephenson, as expected, has also been the designated hitter and has played first base -- something that will happen during the regular season.
First base (1): Joey Votto
There has been some flip-flopping from me on this one all spring. Votto was on my first prediction but was dropped from the previous update because he hadn't seen game action and there was no timetable. But Votto has since played in Cactus League games, appears to be 100 percent and is doing everything the same as the rest of the team in his preparation. Those are all optimistic signs that the 39-year-old will be ready in time to begin the season.
Second base (1): Jonathan India
India entered Friday 4-for-26 this spring but has hit three doubles. After leg injuries marred his 2022 season, he is moving around very well and showing no issues.
Shortstop (2): Jose Barrero, Kevin Newman
I had Newman winning the starting job in my first two attempts, but I think Barrero has been coming on offensively after a slow start in camp. It's still not a lock, but he has shown enough improvement with his hitting adjustments to open the season in the big leagues. Newman will also get opportunities to play.
Third base (1): Spencer Steer
Steer has been hitting well this spring but has been struggling defensively. It isn't from a lack of effort, as he's been putting in the time to sharpen up. The club still believes that will show up in games when it matters.
Outfielders (4): Wil Myers, Jake Fraley, TJ Friedl, Will Benson
Nick Senzel (left big toe) will not be ready to start the season, which has opened a spot in center field for either Benson or Friedl to play. Both are left-handed hitters, but either can also play in the corner outfield spots.
DH/bench/utility (1): Chad Pinder
The Reds will rotate the designated hitter spot among many regulars and their bench.
Pinder can play everywhere, but most of his recent experience from Oakland has come as a corner outfielder. Matt Reynolds has been dealing with quad injuries for most of camp and doesn't look like he will be ready in time. Nick Solak, whom I had making the team in both earlier predictions, struggled all spring and was among the recent cuts.
Starting pitchers (5): Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft, Connor Overton, Luke Weaver
There is a change from the previous two editions, with Overton moving into a spot over Luis Cessa, who has been with Mexico for the World Baseball Classic. Cessa hasn't been used much, which could set him back a little. For now, he can take a bullpen spot and potentially get into the rotation at a later time. Overton was hit hard in his earlier games but looked very strong in his last outing on Wednesday. Weaver was dealing with a sore forearm for a few days this week but has resumed throwing. If he remains OK, he can still claim the spot.
Relief pitchers (8): Alexis Díaz (CL), Lucas Sims, Buck Farmer, Reiver Sanmartin, Fernando Cruz, Alex Young, Luis Cessa, Ian Gibaut
There have been more changes to this prediction. I took out Hunter Strickland from the previous attempt and put in Cessa. Young is a non-roster invitee but has continued to show that he belongs as a second left-handed option for manager David Bell.