GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Left-hander John Lamb would be one of the front runners for a spot in the Reds rotation if he were fully healthy.
He’s not. Lamb had back surgery in Dec. 7 to repair a bulging disc in his back. Lamb and Homer Bailey are only pitchers that will not be on a regular schedule at the start of spring training.
Lamb, one of three pitchers obtained from Kansas City in the Johnny Cueto deal, tried to pitch through the problem last season. He went 1-5 with a 5.80 ERA in 10 starts after the trade.
“I found myself trying to manage an injury all season,” he said. “I went about it my own way to keep myself comfortable. It never really became between the lines until later in the year.
“Fortunately for me - selfishly - I was able to go out there and compete. It felt good enough to do so. It certainly could have felt better at the end. Nothing physically told me not to go. I grateful that was willing to let me go out there.”
Lamb is back throwing. He’ll throw off the mound for the first time since the surgery on Sunday.
“It’s been in rearview for the most part,” he said. “I’m moving forward in hopes of feeling good. I’m in my long-toss program. I’m following that.”
With Bailey out till at least until the start of May, there are only two locks for the Opening Day rotation — Anthony DeSclafani and Raisel Iglesias. Lamb is in the mix.
“I’m very grateful to be in this environment and feel like I have an opportunity to make this club, whether that comes out of camp or in time,” he said.
The only other player limited at the beginning is catcher Kyle Skipworth, who is coming off ankle surgery.
Zack Cozart, Devin Mesoraco and Billy Hamilton, all coming off surgeries, are cleared to go.
If the Reds were in a more competitive situation,l Bailey might be on the fast track to an Opening Day start.
“Homer just looks great,” Price said. “He’s throwing. He’s done all the long-toss work. He’s been off the mound. You could make an argument that you can really rush him for Opening Day. But we’re not going to do that. He’s coming off back-to-back elbow surgeries. We’re going to get him plenty of mound time and slowly integrate him into games.
“He’ll be ready right around the first of May.”
Who fills out the rotation until then is one of the things the Reds will sort during spring training. Price mentioned Jon Moscot, Michael Lorenzen, Tim Melville, Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed and Jonathan Sanchez. Brandon Finnegan and Keyvius Sampson could be in the mix.
Basically, beyond DeSclafani and Iglesias, it’s wide open.
“We know those two, and then we certainly have Moscot competing for a spot, Lorenzen and then a cavalcade of other guys,” Price said.
Stephenson and Reed are top prospects in the system. The Reds will be cautious with them.
“There are certain guys we don’t want to move too fast, too soon,” Price said. “You saw what happened last year. After the trades, we had a lot of guys up here that we brought up out of necessity and they didn’t pitch terribly well. We want guys to pitch here because it’s their time to pitch here and they’re ready to pitch here.
"I hope we’re in the position to be able to do that and not have to have guys make the team out of necessity because we need to fill spots.”