We’ve known now for a couple of weeks that, sadly, Tejay Antone is not going to be an option in the Cincinnati Reds bullpen for quite awhile. He already missed all of the 2022 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery - the second such time he’s had the major surgery in his pro career - and while ramping up for a return in 2023 he ended up with a forearm strain that will once again set him back.
Manager David Bell has indicated that Antone will be out at least ‘through April,’ as Bobby Nightengale of The Enquirer relayed, though Antone himself has hinted that there will be a much longer delay for his return. That’s an obvious blow to a bullpen that made [/checks notes] no major overhaul after posting the highest walk-rate in the National League, 4th highest HR/9 in all of baseball, and highest FIP of any of MLB’s 30 clubs in 2022. Still, it might well be the news included in Nightengale’s piece that Tony Santillan might be out for Opening Day, too, that’s the most relevant new news, as he was supposed to be a major ‘addition’ to this team’s bullpen after a similarly injury-plauged 2022.
With Luis Cessa at WBC duty with Mexico and both Santillan and Antone sidelined, that will open up the competition for Opening Day roster spots within the bullpen significantly during Spring Training. Add-in that today is the first day when teams can use the 60-day IL to open up 40-man roster spots, and it could also open the door for a reasonably significant addition should the Reds actually, y’know, choose to address some of the glaring issues that stare them in the face at the moment.
Hat-tip to MLB Network insider Joel Sherman for that tidbit.
Today is 1st official day teams can use 60-day IL. Significant since that can open 40-man roster spots if any clubs have been holding off late signings. The NYY, for example, have basically had a 38-man roster all offseason. Effross/Gil had TJ surgery and won't pitch this yr— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) February 15, 2023
If Antone is truly going to be sidelined until after the All Star break, he’s an obvious 60-day candidate. Vlad Gutierrez, who is similarly recovering from Tommy John surgery, giving the Reds potentially a pair of 40-man spots they could use for bullpen augmentation. That said, with Derek Law and Alex Young in camp as non-roster invitees, the Reds could also just take the easy route and add them for Opening Day should things go well enough for them in Goodyear.
In other news, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon caught up with the more promising sector of Reds pitching in Goodyear yesterday, noting that the young trio of Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, and Graham Ashcraft is poised to lead the club wherever it may go in 2023. They’re cool, they’re good, they need some damn help, however.
Over at The Athletic, Jayson Stark notes just how much of a shitshow Spring Training games will be as MLB attempts to implement their CVS receipt’s worth of new rule changes. It truly will be a bit wild to see clubs adapt to having a whole new slate of technicalities on their plate, but hopefully they’ll get all the kinks worked out before games begin to count.
(Wait a minute, regular season games actually count? I tend to forget that around here 9 out of every 10 seasons...)
Blog friend Dan Szymborski has his ZiPS projections for the upcoming season now available over at FanGraphs, and guess what? WE’RE NOT LAST! WE’RE NOT LAST!
Finally, Alejo Lopez cleared waivers and will remain in-camp with the Reds after being Designated for Assignment last week to open up the roster spot for the newly acquired Will Benson. Charlie Goldsmith of the The Enquirer relayed that news.