CINCINNATI -- The only thing clear about the 2018 Reds rotation is that it is really hazy.
The latest thing to fog it over: Anthony DeSclafani, the 27-year-old right-hander, left his rehab start for Single-A Dayton after nine batters and 23 pitches Thursday night. The diagnosis is tendinitis. DeSclafani has spent the year on the disabled list with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament. An MRI showed the UCL intact.
"There was nothing to the UCL, which is pretty good news," DeSclafani said. "Just inflammation. I'll take a few days and hopefully the pain subsides and I can start throwing. That's the goal at least. There's no point to pushing it."
DeSclafani was one of the arms the Reds were counting on for the 2018 rotation. This throws that into limbo.
"The thing we haven't been able to do is define why he has recurring elbow problems," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "As much as the MRI tells us he has tendinitis, we're trying to figure out why he has tendinitis.
"If he had no issues this year and got tendinitis, it's a non-issue. But considering he's been rehabbing this elbow since the first week of spring training, it's currently frustrating. Sometimes you can't explain things, as frustrating as they are.
"We want to get this behind him and get him where he can be optimistic about rejoining our rotation."
The images of his MRI will be sent to another doctor for a second opinion. Regardless of the how that comes out, is it time to shut it down for the year?
"I want to pitch this year because it will help me stay in a positive frame of mind," DeSclafani said. "That's what I'm going to look forward to, getting back on the mound. That's what I'm going to tell myself.
"Is it realistic? I have no idea. I'd like to say it is."
DeSclafani breezed through his first two rehab starts, throwing up to 95 mph, but it went bad quickly in Dayton Thursday.
"The second pitch I kind of felt something," he said. "The third pitch I felt it a little more. The fourth pitch, it flared up pretty good. I was telling myself after that: 'I don't want to feel this. Why am I feeling this?'
"It just didn't work out. I tried as much as I could to pitch through it. I wasn't able to finish pitches. I left pitches up."
He gave up eight runs on eight hits, including three home runs.
DeSclafani went 9-5 with a 3.28 ERA last year. He would have started Opening Day if healthy.
"I'm not the first guy to go through this," he said, "I won't be the last. I'm not going to feel sorry for myself."
Again, this setback is a big deal for a team trying to figure out who's in or out for '18.
"We're trying to build a starting rotation of guys we know are going to pitch significant innings," Price said.