4:55pm: Bell told reporters (including Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer) that Castillo and Minor will indeed both start the year on the IL.
9:44am: Reds right-hander Luis Castillo is “expected” to begin the season on the injured list after being slowed by some shoulder soreness early in camp, writes MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. Meanwhile, manager David Bell told reporters yesterday that Castillo is “quite a bit ahead” of newly acquired left-hander Mike Minor, who is battling shoulder troubles of his own. Bell said the team is set to meet with some of its ailing players today to establish a more concrete rehab plan for each.
News of Castillo’s barking shoulder first surfaced earlier in camp, and it’s worth emphasizing that the team believes he’s healthy now. However, Castillo has been behind schedule in an already truncated Spring Training and has yet to pitch in a Cactus League game. Opening Day is less than two weeks away at this point, and it seems the 29-year-old righty simply won’t have time to sufficiently build up to readiness for the early portion of the season. Placing Castillo on the injured list would set him up to miss multiple turns through the rotation, but he could still be back in the fold for the Reds by mid-to-late April.
The likelihood of a Castillo trade had already plummeted in recent weeks, with general manager Nick Krall publicly stating he didn’t expect to trade Castillo or right-hander Tyler Mahle (who has since been named the team’s Opening Day starter). Now, with some shoulder issues on top of the Reds’ public disinclination toward trading him, it seems all but certain that Castillo remain a Red for at least the early portion of the season. Should the team struggle, of course, his name will be featured prominently in summer trade rumblings once again.
As for Minor, it’s not yet clear just how much time he’ll be expected to miss. Bell suggested that Minor is dealing with soreness that the team does not believe to be overly concerning, but added that the veteran lefty’s shoulder is going to “take some more time.”
Acquired in a surprising swap that sent reliever Amir Garrett to the Royals and saw the Reds take on about $7MM in salary — the first time this winter that Cincinnati had added, rather than subtracted, from the payroll — Minor joined his new club in hopes of rebounding from a rough 2020-21 showing.
The 34-year-old Minor has posted an ERA north of 5.00 in each of the past two seasons, working to a combined 5.18 ERA in 215 1/3 innings between the Rangers, A’s and Royals in that time. Minor still notched solid strikeout and walk rates during that time, but home runs have become increasingly problematic for him. Considering he’ll move from the spacious Kauffman Stadium to the homer-happy Great American Ball Park, that’s not an encouraging trend, but the Reds clearly have some confidence they’ll be able to help curtail the issue.
With Castillo and Minor both sidelined for some time to begin the year, the Reds’ Opening Day rotation is going to feature quite a few untested arms. Mahle will take the ball on Opening Day and likely be followed by 26-year-old Vladimir Gutierrez, who held his own with a 4.74 ERA in 114 innings/22 starts as a rookie last season. Options already on the 40-man would include Tony Santillan, Reiver Sanmartin and Riley O’Brien. The Reds have several non-roster veterans and journeymen in camp, including Zack Godley, Ben Lively, Brandon Bailey and Connor Overton. Prospects like Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Brandon Williamson and Graham Ashcraft could all get a look, too. Right-hander Justin Dunn, acquired in the Jesse Winker trade, is expected to miss “months” with a shoulder injury that Reds knew about at the time of the trade.
Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote over the weekend that Greene, in particular, appears to have a shot at breaking camp in the Reds’ rotation, though no final decisions have been made just yet. Greene showed well in his first start of the spring though and has already drawn praise from Bell, who noted that the former No. 2 pick has “settled in” and impressed the club while “pitching with confidence” thus far.