Health a factor for Reds' Opening Day roster

Health a factor for Reds' Opening Day roster

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Reds enjoyed their second and final off-day of Spring Training on Thursday, less than two weeks away from breaking camp. But even after 16 cuts were made on Wednesday, there are still many open questions as the battle for 25-man roster spots continues.

Cincinnati manager Bryan Price, general manager Dick Williams and their staff still have to determine who will earn three rotation spots, two bullpen spots and fill out the bench.

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With five weeks of camp observations, conversations and information to rely on, here is the prediction of the Reds' roster when they open the 2017 season on April 3 vs. the Phillies at Great American Ball Park.

Everyday eight
Catcher Devin Mesoraco, first baseman Joey Votto, second baseman Jose Peraza, shortstop Zack Cozart, third baseman Eugenio Suarez, left fielder Adam Duvall, center fielder Billy Hamilton, right fielder Scott Schebler

The variable here -- of course -- is Mesoraco, who did not debut in games until Sunday as he returns from hip and shoulder surgeries. There have been no setbacks, but he must prove his body can handle catching at least 50 percent of regular-season games for him not to open the season on the disabled list. If Mesoraco isn't ready, Tucker Barnhart would start, and either Rule 5 Draft pick Stuart Turner or non-roster invite Rob Brantly could make the club as the No. 2 catcher.

Mesoraco on catching, health

Bench
Barnhart, Arismendy Alcantara, Ryan Raburn, Desmond Jennings, Hernan Iribarren

Dilson Herrera was sent down on Wednesday, in part because his shoulder wasn't ready to play defense. Raburn and Jennings are non-roster invites, but they are veterans that seemed likely to make the team when they signed. Both have yet to hit well, however. One consideration here is if Cincinnati opts for an eight-man bullpen, somebody on the bench will lose a spot.

Starting rotation
Brandon Finnegan, Scott Feldman, Cody Reed, Amir Garrett, Bronson Arroyo

The Reds lost Homer Bailey (bone chips in elbow) just before camp and then saw Anthony DeSclafani go down with a sprained UCL in his elbow that will put him on the DL for several weeks to open the season. That puts Price in a tough spot to fill innings.

Garrett and Sal Romano have been the most impressive among the prospects competing for spots. Romano would have to skip Triple-A to make the team -- which isn't unheard of, but I think he might be given a little more time to develop. Hence, it's my feeling that Cincinnati will go with the 40-year-old Arroyo. Even though he's had one scoreless two-inning start, he will be given the benefit of the doubt. Price isn't counting on Arroyo, yet.

Arroyo on gaining reps

"I think if he's physically able to pitch without any setbacks with the elbow or shoulder, I think he'll pitch and pitch efficiently and effectively at the big league level. I'm very confident in that, actually," Price said. "It was only two innings the other day, but two innings where he felt great and recovered well. That lends optimism to the possibility of him making this team."

Bullpen
Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, Drew Storen, Tony Cingrani, Blake Wood, Tim Adleman, Robert Stephenson

With a rotation that lacks pitchers who can be counted on to go deep into games consistently, the bullpen will need to offer length. Adleman and Stephenson can eat up innings as relievers, and both could swing into the rotation if someone underperforms.

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.