Reds have 12 cuts left to make
With Opening Day approaching, bullpen decisions loom
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Slowly, but surely, the Reds are whittling their roster down to the 25-player limit.Catcher Ryan Hanigan was optioned to Triple-A Louisville on Sunday afternoon, the Reds' only cut of the day. It was not an unexpected move. More surprising is that the Reds still have 37 healthy players left with just six days remaining in camp. The club started with 62, and at one point camp swelled to a total of 64 players. "In my previous stops [with the Giants and Cubs], I didn't have this many players in camp," manager Dusty Baker said. "But in my previous stops, we always had a mini-camp. Instead of having the extra 14-15 guys, they'd be in a mini-camp that's separate where you can choose from." Much of the roster intrigue revolves around the makeup of the bullpen. Closer Francisco Cordero, David Weathers and Mike Stanton are the only players who have locked up spots. Jared Burton hasn't had a good spring but appears to be a good bet to make it. That would leave three remaining spots for leading contenders Todd Coffey, Mike Lincoln, Bill Bray and Kent Mercker to compete for. All are making the decision tough. Coffey hasn't given up a run, and only one hit, in 6 1/3 innings, a promising sign after his rough 2007 season. "He told me he was going to work in the offseason when I talked to him," Baker said. "He said he was going to lose weight and come ready. He kept his word. Coffey has thrown the ball as well as anybody." Bray, who got a late start in camp because of a shoulder injury, pitched two scoreless innings on Sunday against the Rays. The lefty hasn't allowed a run in his four games, totaling six innings. Mercker pitched a scoreless inning of his own on Sunday, yielding one hit and one walk. The left-hander, who missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, has a 3.00 ERA after six innings in six games.
Lincoln has missed the last three-and-a-half seasons because of two Tommy John surgeries, has posted a 7.56 ERA in seven outings, but for the most part has looked good."It's real tough," Baker said of the final roster decisions. "It's OK, it's what we're here for. Hopefully [we'll take] the best team north."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.