Reds playing it safe with Iglesias' usage

Reliever not cleared for back-to-back games since return from shoulder injury

Reds playing it safe with Iglesias' usage

MILWAUKEE -- Raisel Iglesias has shown enough stuff -- including a power fastball and poise -- to handle the duties required to be the Reds closer. What Iglesias lacks is the medical clearance to do the job regularly.

Because of right shoulder injuries this season and 2015, Iglesias isn't viewed as being able to work on back-to-back days like all closers. Manager Bryan Price, who often uses Tony Cingrani in the ninth inning but lacks an "official closer," noted that the medical department has a say in letting him know when Iglesias can have his limitations removed.

"I don't know how close we are," Price said on Friday. "We knew we'd go back and reassess it every couple of weeks. Right now, we're on the more conservative side with this. We have gotten to the point that if he throws two innings, he can have one day off and be able to pitch based on certain protocols he has to pass."

After spending May 1-June 20 on the disabled list with a right shoulder impingement, Iglesias moved from starter to reliever with great success. After retiring the final batter in Friday night's 7-4 Reds victory, he has a 0.64 ERA in 16 relief appearances with 12 hits, 12 walks and 31 strikeouts over 28 innings.

Iglesias was not available Monday at St. Louis when the Reds blew a 4-0 lead in the ninth inning in a 5-4 loss to the Cardinals. On the previous day at Pittsburgh, he threw 32 pitches in one inning. On Tuesday, he recorded his first big league save with one perfect inning and 27 pitches. That rendered him unavailable Wednesday.

The end game is to make sure Iglesias stays healthy and strong the rest of 2016 before deciding on his role for 2017: starter or reliever. Price acknowledged it's sometimes hard to take the long view knowing his best reliever isn't always available to lock down a win.

"I believe in doing everything you can to keep your players healthy, without question," Price said. "I also know we're all being evaluated to try to win as much and play as good of baseball as we can. There are times we don't always have our best personnel available. That's just a part of the deal. If that's the directive, then we'll deal with the directive. Right now, that's the directive."

Worth noting

• When asked if Brandon Finnegan would be shut down soon for a still-unspecified innings limit, Price declined to speculate.

"Only because I'd hate to backtrack and have to explain myself why he's still starting," Price said. "We don't have any idea. We could go to a six-man rotation, we could have some variations. We could use off-days and extra starters in September to give guys longer breaks and allow them to stay in the rotation."

Finnegan, scheduled to start Monday vs. the Marlins, is at 129 1/3 innings this season after he had 105 last season in the Majors and Minors. It has not been determined if the lefty would be used as a starter or reliever in 2017.

"He's checked off the box that he can [start]. What we probably haven't defined at this point: Is that his best position on our team?" Price said.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.