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Shoulder woes still plaguing Cincinnati Reds righty Justin Dunn

The options for the Opening Day rotation keep dwindling.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Right shoulder problems kept Cincinnati Reds righty Justin Dunn sidelined for much of the 2022 season following his acquisition from the Seattle Mariners, and it appears that same shoulder is going to set Dunn back again in 2023.

News broke yesterday evening that Dunn’s shoulder was bothering him once again, and that there was going to be a bit of a delay to his ramp-up. The beats caught up with Reds manager David Bell this afternoon, and Bell relayed that there’s a chance Dunn might miss all of spring training while resting the arm.

It’s surely a frustrating development for Dunn, a 1st round pick of the New York Mets back in 2016 who had a pretty clear path for a significant role on the Reds Opening Day roster in sight given their lack of additions following deals that shipped out Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle, and Luis Castillo last year. It’s also a bit of a puzzling development given that the same shoulder cost him so much time already and surely was behind, in part, him allowing 11 HR in just 31.0 IP in his debut season with the Reds a year ago.

If anything, it may help pave the way for Brandon Williamson - acquired from Seattle in the same deal as Dunn - to break camp with the big league club. Currently the team’s starting rotation consists of second-year pros Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft, and little else that’s proven much recently, a major question mark on a club that’s chock full of them.

This also might be the kind of development that will prompt the Reds to evaluate lefty Daniel Norris as a starting option despite him serving almost exclusively as a reliever during the last trio of seasons. Norris, who’ll turn 30 in April, has appeared out of the bullpen in 107 of 111 appearances at the big league level since the start of the 2020 season but has 79 career starts to his name. It could also prompt the Reds to explore whether Andrew Abbott and/or Levi Stoudt look ready enough to get their first cups of big league Joe, too.