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Rash of injuries cripples Reds' depth

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- In one way, it was a very good spring training for Cincinnati Reds. Billy Hamilton, the 23-year-old center fielder the Reds are counting on so much, was very good.

"He was terrific," Reds manager Bryan Price said.

But Hamilton's play was mitigated but an seemingly endless series of injuries. As the Reds broke camp, they knew six players -- closer Aroldis Chapman, setup men Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton, utility players Jack Hannahan and Skip Schumaker and No. 2 starter Mat Latos -- would start the year on the disabled last. There was a chance catcher Devin Mesoraco and right-hander Brett Marshall, the likely replacement for Latos, could end up there as well.

Because of injuries, the Reds were unable to set their roster before breaking camp.

"There are just a lot of balls in the air right now," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I wish I could be more direct with you guys. But I think I'm being as direct as I can be. I really don't know. I don't know who's going to be on this team."

As bad as the injuries were, none of them were season-ending and Latos could pitch as soon as 10 days into the season while the team's core remains intact.

"It looks like we'll have 80 percent of our starting rotation and the real challenge will be with our bullpen and just trying to get the right mix out there," Price said. "We're still running out some premium guys, some guys that are coming off of some great successes -- especially with (Sam) LeCure, (J.J.) Hoover, Manny Parra and we're still deciding on what we want to do with (Alfredo) Simon if he's a better piece as a bullpen piece as opposed to a starter.

"We really only need a fifth starter on (April 6) and then after that, we don't need him again until the 15th or so. His value may be better served as a relief pitcher. We haven't made that final decision yet. Considering not having Chapman, not having Marshall or Broxton to start the season, he could help influence that back end of those ballgames quite well.

"Those are the challenges. I just don't see where we can't weather this storm. We have good players. Our starting lineup -- with the question mark of Mesoraco -- our everyday lineup is intact. Our bench will still be strong, even minus Schumaker. We'll weather the storm missing a couple of starts with Latos."

The players remain confident as well.

"I really don't want to minimize the injuries that the guys are going through or minimize their impact in general on the team at all," first baseman Joey Votto said. "If we had one of those guys out, it would be a blow to our team. But I still think we're going to play well. We're prepared for the season. Injuries are prominent part of the game. Sometimes they happen at the beginning, sometimes they happen at end, sometimes they happen in the middle."

NOTES, QUOTES

--C Devin Mesoraco is unlikely to be ready opening day. He has been dealing with a strained oblique. "We haven't made a complete commitment," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It's unlikely that he would be. We haven't signed off that we wouldn't be ready at some point in time in that first series. Today's probably a very important day for that."

--INF Ramon Santiago was told he made the club five days before camp ended. "I'm very happy, I wanted to be on this team because it's a very special group and then they gave me the news and I'm looking forward now to do the best I can to help the team win ballgames," Santiago said.

--INF Neftali Soto caught two innings in a game on the second last day of spring training. "It's adds to his value," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He's worked hard at it. He looked comfortable back there."

--OF Roger Bernadina broke camp with the Reds, but he has not been told he's made the club. Bernadina has an out on March 28 if he's not on the roster. "I want to be with the Reds," he said.

--INF Jack Hannahan (shoulder) still was not able to throw across the diamond at game speed as

spring ended.

--LHP Sean Marshall (shoulder) threw to live batters for first time the day before the Reds broke camp March 27. He will remain in Arizona and build arm strength in minor league games.

--RHP Jonathan Broxton (elbow) made three appearances in camp. He will likely need another week to 10 days to get ready.

--RHP Brett Marshall (finger) was being evaluated as camp ended. He was likely to start the year on the disabled list.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't want anyone crossing the street," Reds manager Bryan Price after the spate of injuries.

ROSTER REPORT

The Reds will start the season with six players on the disabled list. That is the bad news. The good news is their lineup is relatively healthy and four of the five starters are healthy. The bullpen and bench are where the injury-bug struck.

ROTATION:

1. RHP Johnny Cueto

2. RHP Mike Leake

3. RHP Homer Bailey

4. LHP Tony Cingrani

5. RHP Alfredo Simon

The rotation was hit hard this spring by injuries. Mat Latos will start the year on the disabled list. He needed knee surgery after hurting himself the day before camp opened. He was already rehabbing for elbow surgery. He could be back with two weeks.

Cueto, Bailey and Leake all missed starts as well. They got healthy just as spring ended.

Brett Marshall would have been the fifth starter, but he strained tendon on his pitching hand in his final spring start.

BULLPEN:

RHP J.J. Hoover

RHP Sam LeCure

RHP Logan Ondrusek

LHP Manny Parra

RHP Pedro Beato

RHP Nick Christiani

RHP Jose Diaz

The three highest paid relievers -- closer Aroldis Chapman and set-up men Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton -- will start the year on the disabled list.

Manager Bryan Price has not named a closer. Hoover is the most likely candidate. Broxton will likely be back inside two weeks. Chapman is out at least a month after that scary incident in which he took a line drive to the forehead.

LINEUP:

1. CF Billy Hamilton

2. 2B Brandon Phillips

3. 1B Joey Votto

4. RF Jay Bruce

5. LF Ryan Ludwick

6. 3B Todd Frazier

7. SS Zack Cozart

8. C Devin Mesoraco

Manager Bryan Price is going to bat Votto and Bruce back-to-back against right-handed starters -- something former manager Dusty Baker rarely did.

Mesoraco may not start Opening Day because of his strained oblique, but the Reds were hopeful he could play in the first series.

Hamilton is key up top. He had a great spring.

Phillips, who struggled last year after being hit on forearm with a pitch, is another key. He showed good power in the spring with five home runs going into the last day.

RESERVES:

C Brayan Pena

INF Ramon Santiago

OF Chris Heisey

INF Neftali Soto

OF Roger Bernadina or INF/OF Chris Negron

This is another area really affected by injuries. INF/OF Skip Schumaker dislocated his shoulder a week before the end of spring. He will miss a month. INF Jack Hannahan's recovery from offseason shoulder surgery went slow. He'll start the year on the DL as well.

Santiago made the team as a non-roster player. He gives the Reds a true backup at shortstop. Heisey had a great spring (six home runs), as did Bernadina or Negron.

MEDICAL WATCH:

--LHP Aroldis Chapman (forehead) had surgery to repair a fracture above his left eye after being hit by a line drive March 19. He'll miss at least a month.

--INF Jack Hannahan (shoulder) still was not able to throw across the diamond at game speed as spring ended.

--RHP Mat Latos (knee, elbow) was healthy and throwing well as spring ended but he did not have time to get his pitch count high enough to start the year active.

--LHP Sean Marshall (shoulder) threw to live batters for first time the day before the Reds broke camp March 27. He will remain in Arizona and build arm strength in minor league games.

--RHP Jonathan Broxton (elbow) made three appearances in camp. He will likely need another week to 10 days to get ready.

--OF/INF Skip Schumaker (shoulder) is expected to miss a month after dislocating his shoulder making a diving catch March 21.

--C Devin Mesoraco (oblique) missed the last 10 days of spring. He was going to stay behind to get at-bats in minor league games.

--RHP Brett Marshall (finger) was being evaluated as camp ended. He was likely to start the year on the disabled list.

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