Antone brings heat in push for Reds' rotation

March 4th, 2021

knows what he wants.

“I want to start,” Antone said after two dazzling innings against the Dodgers in Wednesday night's 4-4 tie at Camelback Ranch. “But wherever this team needs me, I’ll be.”

The 27-year-old from Mansfield, Texas, is definitely giving the Reds plenty to think about this spring. He struck out five and allowed only one hit while featuring fastballs in 97 to 99 mph range. His sliders were 81-83 mph.

“Maybe could have been the best fastball I’ve seen. That’s saying a lot, he was so good last year, but his fastball looked really good,” manager David Bell said Wednesday. “He was throwing it right where he wanted it, upper 90s. He just looked locked in. That’s what we’ve kind of grown accustomed to with Tejay, just being very focused and determined.”

It’s uncertain what role he will play when camp breaks at the end of March, but it could be in the bullpen. He’s competing against Jeff Hoffman, Michael Lorenzen and José De León for a spot in the rotation. Last season, Antone went 0-3 with a 2.80 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP in 13 games, including four starts.

“The fastball was right where I wanted it. The slider was right where I wanted it,” Antone said. “I was making good adjustments on the curveball and I didn’t throw any changeups. Everything is right where I wanted so far. Go back to this week and kind of flush this and keep getting to work.”

As for Hoffman, he started the game and was charged with two runs on two hits on two innings. He walked one and did not strike out a hitter before yielding to Antone to start the third.

“I felt like there were some good things to take from it,” Hoffman said. “Fastball felt pretty good, it felt like I was moving the ball around a little bit. I was feeling for the breaking ball today, but with the split I felt like it was in the zone. As long as I’m having one of those working for me, I can get a few outs and get the job done. The walk there in the second inning hurt, but all and all it was a good one to build on.”