CINCINNATI -- Despite having injuries on or near both shoulders and being limited to four starts in 2017, Reds left-handed pitcher Brandon Finnegan went into his offseason with optimism.
"I will just have a normal offseason. I'm completely healed, both sides," Finnegan said late in September. "I've got more rotation in my right shoulder than I had before I got hurt. That's a good thing. I'll start working out in November and throwing in December. I'll keep up with my running, and that's it."
Three starts into the season, Finnegan was placed on the disabled list on April 16 with a strained teres major muscle near his left shoulder. A longer-than-expected rehab kept the 24-year-old out until he returned on June 26 and pitched against the Cardinals.
Three innings into his start at St. Louis, Finnegan had to leave the game when he re-aggravated the injury. His chances of returning in 2017 went from slim to none in July when he suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder after he slipped and fell going from a boat to a dock. The injury required season-ending surgery.
The grand total for his season amounted to 13 innings and a 4.15 ERA. It was supposed to be a big second full year in the Majors after he pitched 172 innings in 2016 while going 10-11 with a 3.98 ERA in 31 starts. He showed notable progress in the second half of '16 with a 2.93 ERA over his final 13 starts.
The Reds had been counting on Finnegan to have been a stabilizing presence in a young rotation.
"It was a bad season, for sure," Finnegan said. "I'm not the only one on the team that's had to miss a season, especially because of injury. It sucks that I came back and was feeling great -- until the third inning -- and it was the same injury. By the time I pick up a baseball, it will probably be six to seven months since the last time I threw. So I should be completely healthy with no problems.
"The good thing about the two shoulders is I was doing the same rehab for both. On the left side, it was consistently getting the strength back -- the lat and shoulder blade. It was the same rehab for the right shoulder. It wasn't like I was doing completely different [things] from one arm to the other. That was a good thing. The bad thing was I spent every day for six months in the training room."
After the Reds used 16 different starters this past season, they will be looking for a starting five in 2018 that can bring more consistency. But with numerous injuries and poor performances by many, the club does not yet have a set rotation.
"I'm going to come to Spring Training like I have the last two years and be ready to go," Finnegan said. "I've never had a good Spring Training, so I don't plan on having a good Spring Training next year. I just plan on coming back and having a good year. I'll have my arm in shape and body in shape to be ready to pitch, hopefully 200 innings."
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.