C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer caught up with Bryan Price this morning, and the top topics on the docket were the statuses of several prominent projected members of the Reds 25 man roster. Price spoke frankly about their timelines, and while there wasn't much groundbreaking news, there was at least some concrete laid regarding what the roster will look like for the first game of the season (which, in case you haven't noticed, is rapidly approaching).
The Obvious - Price confirmed that Aroldis Chapman would start the season on the DL, something that we've been well aware of since he was struck in the face with a line drive a few days ago.
The Expected - Price also publicly confirmed what we'd come to expect regarding relievers Jonathan Broxton and Sean Marshall: that they'll both start the season on the DL, too. They're both progressing, which is good, and it sounds as if both are getting close to being their former dominant selves, but with the status of several of the starting pitchers up in the air, Price seems to want healthy relievers to begin the season while the starters aren't yet capable of going deep into games. Speaking of the starters, Price also suggested that it's likely that Mat Latos will start the season on the DL given his slow comeback from elbow and, more recently, knee surgery, but it appears he won't be facing any additional delays. Home Bailey still has a good chance of not missing a regular season start, but that assumes that his groin issue subsides soon enough for him to make his scheduled bullpen session this weekend. Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani, and Johnny Cueto each seem to be OK, with each of the issues they've faced (and the time missed as a result) being more a case of preseason caution than endemic problems.
The Surprise - You may have noticed that Brayan Pena had been getting the bulk of the catching duties of late, and given how emotionally affected he was by the injury to Chapman, I found it rather odd that he'd not been rotated into a day or two off this week. Well, it appears that Devin Mesoraco has a strained oblique, and that's probably a large reason why Pena has been penciled in to the lineup so regularly (today's game against the Royals included). It's not expected to be a major issue for the Mes, but it's the kind of injury that has a history of being nagging, and for that, there's some concern. Awesome.
So, the Reds have that going for them, which isn't nice. In case you didn't notice, that's each and every member of the projected 5-man starting rotation, the closer, the top lefty in the pen, and the highest paid righty in the pen. It's also the starting catcher, and since it had already been said that Jack Hannahan would start the season on the DL, that's an injury report on 10 of the projected 25 men on the 25 man roster.
Since Alfredo Simon will presumably take Latos' position in the rotation for the time being, that means that there are 4 open spots to be filled in the Opening Day bullpen and one bench spot for Hannahan. Curtis Partch, Nick Christiani, and Pedro Beato are each on the 40 man roster, so they've got the inside track for a few of the open spots, but continued solid performances by Jumbo Diaz and Trevor Bell could force the Reds into some tough roster decisions.
As for Hannahan's spot, well, your guess is as good as mine. Unless the Reds make a roster move to get Ramon Santiago on the roster, there's not another SS available beyond Zack Cozart, and now that the projected backup 3B (Hannahan) is on the shelf, there's going to need to be some shuffling done to get a complete roster. Neftali Soto is on the 40 man and semi-capable of being a 3B, and he's hit well so far this Spring, and there's always the chance that Skip Schumaker could be considered the emergency backup 3B, too.
One way or another, Price and the Reds have some hard decisions to make, and the clock is nearing the witching hour. Today's report gives some clarity to the issues at hand, but little clarity into the choices that will be necessary to alleviate them.
It appears that Skip Schumaker's diving attempt in LF yesterday has rendered his shoulder a tad angry at its surroundings.
Skip Schumaker says he has a dislocated shoulder, expects to be out a month #Reds
— ctrent (@ctrent) March 22, 2014
Unlike Ryan Ludwick's dive-induced injury from Opening Day 2013, there does not appear to be anything torn, which is good. Skip's injury is like Ludwick's in that it's to his non-throwing shoulder, and I'm still not versed enough to know if that's a better or worse scenario. It is a scenario that will cause him to start the 2014 season on the DL, however, and that's a big scoop of unfortunate with some bummer sprinkles on top.
This means that, all told, the Reds may send a fleet of supposed regulars to the DL safe, lock it, and throw away the key for the first few weeks of the season. Chapman, Broxton, Marshall, Latos, Schumaker, and Hannahan will be stowed away, and that's a pretty impressive set of pitchers and noodle-armed light hitting utility LH hitters.
That's about $27.75 million on the shelf, too, which is almost exactly 1/4th of the Reds projected 2014 payroll.