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With Latos out, Price taking time with rotation

Reds manager not ready to announce Opening Day starter, order of top five

With Latos out, Price taking time with rotation

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds manager Bryan Price isn't ready to name an Opening Day starter, nor assemble a rotation, just yet.

Too much can change between now and March 31, when the club hosts the Cardinals at Great American Ball Park.

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"It's still fluid. I have something in my head that I would like to see unfold," Price said on Tuesday. "That being said, I'd like to know that we're healthy. Until we get into some of these games and get a chance to evaluate our guys, I think I will withhold those thoughts."

One of the bigger unknowns is the status of right-handed starter Mat Latos, who is working his way back from left knee surgery. Latos had a torn meniscus repaired on Feb. 14, the first day of camp. Alfredo Simon is replacing Latos for the Cactus League opener vs. the Indians on Wednesday.

Following Simon in the rotation will be Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Tony Cingrani and Mike Leake. But that doesn't automatically provide a glimpse of what the order might be once the season begins.

"What I look at now is how we get out of the blocks and match up with the early opponents," Price said. "That's more my concern now. We have some history with St. Louis, who we play in six out of the first nine games. I think setting the rotation to line ourselves up to match up the best we can with an in-our-division opponent is important. We don't know where we'll be with Mat, so we have to look at a lot of different potential candidates should he not be ready to start the season and see how that affects how we line up our rotation."

An off-day on April 1 does give Price some flexibility with Latos. If he were to be the No. 2 starter, the Reds could skip him. That spot wouldn't be needed again until April 6 vs. the Mets.

"We do have enough time to make changes, if need be," Price said.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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