GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Throughout Spring Training, it appeared that reliever Alfredo Simon was a lock as the fifth starter in the Reds' rotation. Simon has made all of the starts in place of the injured Mat Latos, and he is stretched out to start.
However, Simon could still wind up in the bullpen. Because of the early scheduled off-days, the Reds would first need the fifth starter on April 6 against the Mets, and not again until April 15 against the Pirates. Latos could be back in the rotation soon thereafter.
"His value may be better served as a relief pitcher," Reds manager Bryan Price said of Simon. "We haven't made that final decision yet. Considering not having [Aroldis] Chapman, not having [Sean] Marshall or [Jonathan] Broxton to start the season, he could help influence that back end of those ballgames quite well."
Following two hitless outings, Simon has been tagged for 15 runs and 24 hits over his past four starts, totaling 18 1/3 innings. If he does return to the bullpen, Brett Marshall or Jeff Francis would become rotation candidates. The former would have the inside track because he is on the 40-man roster and Francis is a non-roster invite.
"It could be Brett; he's definitely in the running for it," Price said. "The one thing we've done is stretch out numerous guys. Jeff has been stretched out. We stretched out Brett. It makes sense."
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.