Raisel Iglesias will be the Reds’ opening day starter; manager Bryan Price announced on Monday.
Iglesias will face the Philadelphia Phillies on April 4, taking the place of the early favorite and logical choice Anthony DeSclafani, who is sidelined with a mild strain in his left oblique.
Iglesias started late this spring because he was shut down in mid September last season with fatigue in his right shoulder. The Reds put him on a program with flexibility exercises this winter. He started behind the other pitchers in camp and didn’t get into a game until March 14.
DeSclafani’s injury was one of many that paired down the original list of a dozen pitcher that Price mentioned the first day of camp as starters.
Brandon Finnegan is scheduled to pitch on Wednesday April 6. The Reds’ are undecided who will start on the 7th. Alfredo Simon is scheduled for Friday the 8th against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Iglesias is set to come back on Saturday the 9th.
The Reds expect DeSclafani to be ready to take the ball against Pittsburgh on Sunday the 10th.
“We will go through a short throwing progression in long toss and be able to throw a simulated game in Cincinnati," Price said. “He felt it in his start against Texas (March 24). He felt a little stitch the start before (March 18) ,not anything to be concerned with. He pitched his bullpen and completed his workload without issue to the point he didn’t get any treatment.”
Dr. Timothy Kremchek examined DeSclafani on the 26th and confirmed that is was a mild strain.
“It was tolerable when I was pitching against Texas but it was getting worse every inning,” DeSclafani said. “I want to be healthy all year. As much as I want to pitch opening day, the oblique can be one of those nagging injuries that last all year.”
Iglesias will become the first Cuban born pitcher to start on opening day for the Reds since Adolpho Luque started the game in 1921 and 1928.
I want to thank the team for having confidence in me,” Iglesias said through interpreter Tomas Vera. “The news the manager gave me today is the best news I’ve had in the last few years. I’m proud to be the opening day pitcher in the Major Leagues. I want to thank my family for their support.”
Iglesias was on the opening day roster last year but was in the bullpen when the game began.
“I was part of opening day but in the bullpen,” Iglesias said. “I was there in case they needed me to pitch. It was a beautiful day. Now when I’m pitching on opening day, I’m going to enjoy it the most.”
Iglesias will pitch in a minor league game on the 30th.
“We want him to pitch in a controlled environment where he can get up and down six times,” Price said. “We need to stretch him out to 90-95 pitches so we can reasonably expect him to pitch six innings on opening day.”
The Reds are deciding who will start the third game on Thursday. It could be Tim Melville, who pitched six strong innings Saturday. It could be Robert Stephenson, who was optioned to Triple A Louisville on March 18.
It will not be Jon Moscot, who pitched in a minor league game on Monday morning. Moscot pitched two innings without pain from a left intercostal strain in his rib cage. Moscot is expected to be stretched out and ready to start by April 17.