GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Depending on the final roster decisions that are made this week, the Reds could break camp without a shortstop to back up Zack Cozart. Ramon Santiago is one of the candidates but is not a lock to make the team. The same goes for Chris Nelson, who played the spot in the Minors but barely in the Majors.
Third baseman Todd Frazier, who was drafted as a shortstop, could fill in, as he did for two games in 2011. He has played there once this spring. There is also another player who will make the team with 312 Minor League games played at shortstop: Billy Hamilton.
Manager Bryan Price was asked if he would consider using Hamilton at shortstop this season.
"I think when you're out of shortstops. I don't want to see [reliever Logan] Ondrusek out there," Price said. "You always look at those worst-case scenarios. We've talked about Neftali Soto as a catcher. What a peace of mind you have if one of your catchers gets hurt and you pinch-hit or pinch-run for him, the other guy is in the game and takes a foul tip or something happens and you can't play and go, 'Boy, Joey Votto caught when he signed. Strap the gear on Joey and send him out there to catch.'
"There is a peace of mind knowing that at least they've done it. In Billy's case, he's done it a lot. In Nefi's case, not so much. Nevertheless, at least he has worked on it. That flexibility definitely gives you a calming sense that if you put Billy in that position or Nefi, at least they've done it before."
Bailey faces Dodgers Minor Leaguers in return
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- In his first game of any kind since March 10, Reds pitcher Homer Bailey pitched five innings for Triple-A Louisville against Dodgers Minor Leaguers on Monday. Bailey, who had been out with a strained right groin, threw 76 pitches.
The early innings went smoothly for Bailey, including a third inning in which he needed only seven pitches. He gave up hits in the fourth and fifth innings and was stopped in the fifth when he reached his pitch limit.
"Early on it almost felt too good, because I hadn't been on the mound in so long," Bailey said. "Then in that fifth, I did start cramping up just a little bit, but that can kind of be expected."
Bailey's fastball velocity ranged generally from 90 to 93 mph, and he topped out at 94 mph. He also threw a few off-speed pitches.
"I don't know how much you can expect the first time out after taking some time off," Bailey said. "I did feel kind mechanically a little off from just not being on the mound and stuff. Physically, I felt all right."
Bailey played it safe and did not cover first base on a couple of ground balls.
"It was something we haven't done yet," Bailey said. "I kind of took a step and said, 'Whoa, not today.' I didn't want to reinjure it covering a base. That was the only hesitation. We've got a week left; let's cool down a little bit."
Assuming Bailey is still feeling OK, his next start would most likely be on Saturday for the Reds in an exhibition at Louisville. That could put him on track to pitch the third game of the regular season, which would be April 3 against the Cardinals.
Bailey seems confident that he will not need to begin the season on the disabled list.
"I don't think I will start on the day I was scheduled to from the beginning of spring, but that's kind of part of being the starter," Bailey said. "You have to wait every fifth day, yada, yada."
Latos feels strength return in scrimmage
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Pitching in a Minor League scrimmage for Double-A Pensacola on Monday, Reds starter Mat Latos threw 43 pitches in three innings against the Dodgers' Double-A Chattanooga club.
It was Latos' second Minor League game since returning from Feb. 14 surgery that repaired torn meniscus cartilage in his left knee. He also had bone chips removed from his right elbow in an October operation.
"The elbow feels great; the knee, I don't feel anything," Latos said. "The velocity was there with me not trying to let it go. It's Spring Training, so who cares? The velocity was there, the curveball was there, the slider was there. I can't complain with anything. I feel strong. I feel ready to go."
The Reds expect Latos to begin the season on the disabled list, and he will remain in Arizona after the team leaves camp. The plan is for him to have at least five starts in spring before pitching in the regular season.
Contingent of injured Reds to stay in Arizona
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Injured Reds relievers Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton and third baseman Jack Hannahan will remain in Arizona after camp breaks to work out and play with the remaining Minor Leaguers.
"This is where we're got games going when we leave for Pensacola and Louisville," Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Because the Friday and Saturday Reds exhibition games at Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Louisville count as big league exhibitions and would prevent backdating disabled-list stints, the three players cannot participate.
Marshall, who has not pitched in a game all spring because of left shoulder soreness, is scheduled to face hitters in live batting practice on Wednesday.
Hannahan, who is recovering from October right shoulder surgery, has been able to hit in games but can't throw effectively on a consistent basis. Hannahan has yet to throw across a diamond from third base to first base in a game.
"He's done it in practice," Price said. "I don't want to say tentative, but it's certainly not at game speed. It might be a day on, a day off or two days on, a day off. He's not throwing every day."
Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco has not swung a bat since straining his left oblique on Wednesday.
"He has increased the amount of rotational exercises he's been doing but has not swung the bat," Price said. "I don't know if that's in the cards today or tomorrow."
Bubble has yet to pop for Reds' fringe players
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Lots of jockeying for the final spots on the Reds' 25-man roster is continuing during the last days of Spring Training. While some clubs have made final decisions, the Reds have not told any of their players who are on the bubble whether they have made the team.
"We have not," Reds manager Bryan Price said Monday. "Of all these other guys, roster and non-roster, there are a lot of decisions to be made. There are so many ramifications from the decisions we make -- removing players from the current 40-man roster to accommodate guys who aren't currently on it. Those are going to be challenging decisions."
Added to the challenge is trying to determine when some of the Reds' injured players who will start on the disabled list will be able to return.
"If you're looking at four, five, six, seven days, you might have a guy on your roster you feel is not as ready but can hold down the fort until a [Jack] Hannahan or [Jonathan] Broxton or someone like that can be added, as opposed to trying to create a roster spot for someone you know might only be with your club for five to seven days," Price said. "Every game is important. We don't want to sacrifice the first week of a season with a lesser club, so we don't risk losing players off our roster. We have some tough decisions."