By HAL McCOY
The news out of the Arizona desert Sunday concerning the Cincinnati Reds was alternative news compared to what will transpire Monday closer to home in Cincinnati.
Pitcher Anthony DeSclafani returned to Cincinnati to undergo an MRI examination on his barking elbow. And it is pretty clear that DeSclafani not only won’t make the Opening Day assignment, he probably will join pitcher Homer Bailey on the disabled list.
The Reds played their second straight split squad games — two games at different venues — and they won both, 4-2 in Goodyear against Milwaukee and 9-8 in Talking Stick against Colorado.
But not only was the news about DeSclafani disheartening, but events in Talking Stick were discouraging, too.
AFTER THREE STRONG INNINGS, rotation candidate Rookie Davis left the game in the fourth inning with an injury. He twisted his ankle covering first base on a ground ball and was removed. The injury, though, doesn’t appear to be serious
In the first three innings Davis gave up one hit and struck out three. Then he made a throwing error to open the fourth and the training staff visited the mound. He remained in the game and gave up a double and hit a batter, loading the bases with no outs.
At that point, after another visit from the trainer, Davis left the game. Wandy Peralta replaced Davis and promptly gave up a grand slam home run to Stephen Cardullo, turning a 3-0 Reds lead into a 4-3 deficit.
Over at Talking Stick, after giving up the grand slam, Wily Peralta gave up two more runs and four more hits in the fourth.
But the Reds scored two in the sixth on Scott Schebler’s two-run home run.
Then the Reds scored four in the seventh to take the lead. Brandon Dixon, who homered Saturday, punched a two-run single, Aristides Aquino singled for a run and Phillip Ervin tripled for a run and a 9-6 lead that held up — barely.
BILLY HAMILTON STRUCK OUT his first two times and was 0 for 3 as his average slipped to .160.
Recently acquired first baseman/outfielder Christian Walker had two hits and scored a run and was the only Cincinnati batter with more than one hit.
SO WHAT NOW CONCERNING the Reds pitching rotation? It is a mystery wrapped around an enigma and things are now as open as the landscape on the desert.
Does that mean that 40-year-old Bronson Arroyo moves up on the depth chart? Absolutely.
Brandon Finnegan and Scott Feldman are front runners to be part of the rotation with the other three spots up for anybody who proves worthy.
The main contestants are Cody Reed, Sal Romano, Tim Adleman, Rookie Davis (if he is OK), Amir Garrett and Robert Stephenson.
Arroyo, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2014, made his spring exhibition debut for the Reds in Goodyear against the Milwaukee Brewers.
And it was noteworthy. He gave up a leadoff single to Scooter Gennett and nothing else. He retired the next six, two on strikeouts.
Drew Storen followed Arroyo with a 1-2-3 inning, then Sal Romano, the biggest surprise of the spring, was outstanding.
He pitched 3 2/3 innings and didn’t give up a run or a hit in his first three innings and strung together six straight strikeouts. After a 1-2-3 inning to start his outing, he started his second inning with a walk and a hit batsman, then struck out the side. Then he struck out the side in his third inning.
He retired the first batter he faced in his fourth inning, then gave up back-to-back doubles for a run, retired the next batter and left the game pumped full of positive vibes.
His line: 3 2/3 innings, one run, two hits, one walk, one hit batter and seven strikeouts.
After building a 4-0 lead via some shoddy Milwaukee defense, the Reds won, 4-2, despite getting only seven hits. Adam Duvall had two hits in his first two at bats and scored a run. Zack Cozart had a hit to drive in a run and scored a run and Jesse Winker drove in a run with a double.
The Reds, of course, were happy with the two wins, but breaths are being held concerning DeSclafani and Davis.