Race for bullpen spots going down to wire

Race for bullpen spots going down to wire

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Now that Johnny Cueto's pending disabled list stint to start the season has helped settle the question of who will make up the Reds' rotation, the last pitching staff questions of spring solely involve the bullpen.

The competition, in all likelihood, will go down to the wire.

"You knew that was going to be the case," Reds manager Dusty Baker said on Tuesday. "You knew there would be big competition for those final couple of spots."

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Still not locked into spots, officially at least, are right-handers Jose Arredondo, Jared Burton, Sam LeCure and Logan Ondrusek and left-handers Bill Bray, Matt Maloney and Dontrelle Willis.

Bray's track record vs. the left-handers and the fact he's out of Minor League options should cement his status as the team's second late-inning lefty along with Aroldis Chapman.

Arredondo has had an inconsistent spring, often dealing with command issues during his first innings in over a year. He missed last season because of Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, and has an 11.12 ERA over five games.

Baker said there was a chance that Arredondo, who is also out of options, could begin the season on the disabled list. That would buy the club some time.

"He's shown flashes of having great stuff like he had before," Baker said. "It's just inconsistent location. Strength could still be a question."

With several good outings and the ability to work two or three innings, non-roster invitee Dontrelle Willis has moved into having a strong chance of making the team. Willis also can hit well, which enhances his chances to hit for himself and be used as a pinch-hitter on days he's not available to pitch.

Not helping matters in the decision process is all of the remaining candidates have been hit hard at least once in the past week. For example, LeCure had seven scoreless innings all spring until he gave up six runs in 2 1/3 innings Friday vs. the Cubs.

"That makes it tough," Baker said. "You go by how they're throwing now, but you also have to consider a guy's history too, and what he's done for you. Everybody in the mix has had a rough outing lately."