The Reds left Goodyear, Ariz. for Atlanta with one spot to decide in the bullpen.
Following the game with the Indians on Saturday, the Reds sent relievers pitchers Anthony Bass and Matt Bowman to the minor leagues. Bass was a non-roster player. Bowman was on the 40-man roster.
“It was a really tough call,” David Bell said. “I was really impressed with Anthony. He is a major league pitcher. I’m glad he’s in our organization.”
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Bass pitched in the Major Leagues with Houston, San Diego, Texas and last season with the Chicago Cubs, where he pitched 16 games.
“With Matt it was a matter of proving that he is healthy,” said Bell, who was the St. Louis Cardinals bench coach for three seasons while Bowman was there. Bowman gave up a two-run home run to Kevin Plawicki on Saturday against the Indians . “Actually, that was the best he’s looked. I had to assure him the home run wasn’t the reason.”.
“We believe in both of those guys. We knew they could help us,” Bell said.
Those moves mean that 26 players will go to Atlanta with three players poised to win the two remaining spots in the bullpen. Wandy Peralta has options but is left-handed. He pitched nine scoreless innings this spring, allowing six hits and a walk. Matt Wisler and Robert Stephenson, both right-handers, are out of options. They would be exposed to waivers if they fail to make the Opening Day roster.
The Reds will have two left-handed pitchers in the bullpen, Zach Duke and Amir Garrett. Peralta would be the third.
“You want to have the best pitcher,” Bell said. “But there is an advantage to having a lefty. I don’t know that you can have too many. Wandy’s had a great spring. We know what he can do. He’s in a good spot. The other guys are out of options that is why it is going to be a tough call. That’s why we couldn’t quite set the roster before we leave.”
Bell is looking for some options to back up Scott Schebler in center. Jesse Winker relieved Schebler in center on Saturday and started Sunday’s Cactus League finale in center vs. the Rockies. Matt Kemp has played some center in his career.
“We really only have Scheb (Scott Schebler) to play center. He is going to get the majority of the playing time,” Bell said. “We really needed a back-up plan. Talking to two guys, who have seen Jesse play, we know he can do it. Delino (DeShields) put him in center at Louisville. We have to have a plan.”
Yasiel Puig played 162 games in center over six seasons in Los Angeles, including 95 in 2016.
“Puig is potentially an option. He’s comfortable in right field. For now we want him to stay in one spot,” Bell said.
Jose Iglesias was brought to camp to fill a bench role but ended up in the starting lineup with Scooter Gennett out for 8 to 12 weeks.
“I had a pretty good spring overall,” Iglesias said. “I’m excited. Every player wants to be on the field and contribute. It is bad news for the team that Scooter got injured. He is a big part of us. Scooter is a great guy to have around. I am excited to pick him up and pick up the organization.”
Iglesias hit two home runs against the Indians on Saturday.
“You think of him as a defensive player but he puts the ball in play. He’s a line drive hitter,” Bell said. “We knew he had some pop in his bat but he hit one of those out to right field. That was good to see.”
The Reds will play exhibition games vs. the Braves on Monday and Tuesday. Cincinnati opens the season Thursday at home vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates.