GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- An unexpected pitcher was named the Reds' starter for Wednesday's Cactus League opener against the Indians. It was unexpected because right-hander Alfredo Simon has been a reliever for the club the past two seasons.
Simon is getting the nod, in part, because he could be an option to join the rotation if Mat Latos isn't ready in time to begin the regular season. Latos is coming back from minor left knee surgery performed on Feb. 14.
"We do know we're short one starter right now without Mat," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Monday. "We have to look really hard at the guys that are next in line. If we were to have any setbacks possibly where Mat wasn't ready to start the season, we have to look at the group that we have here, which would include Simon. He's got a starter's background. He's got a very durable arm, so we want to look at him in longer stretches. We know he can pitch out of the bullpen."
Following Simon in the rotation will be Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Tony Cingrani and Mike Leake.
While with the Orioles from 2008-11, Simon made 19 starts, including 16 in 2011. During 2012 with the Reds, he was mostly a long reliever.
"If they need me to be a starter, I'm ready to go," Simon said. "I know it's been two years since I've started a game. If I get the opportunity, I will show them I can be a starter."
Last season for the Reds, the 32-year-old Simon was one of the relievers who stepped up amid injuries to the staff and had a bigger role than a long guy. He was 6-4 with a 2.87 ERA in a career-high 63 appearances.
"I threw a lot of innings last year. I was doing great," Simon said. "They used me a lot and I just tried to do my job. When the season was over, I was happy with what I did last year."
Broxton clears hurdle with first mound session
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds reliever Jonathan Broxton took a step forward in his rehab from August forearm surgery on Monday. Broxton worked off of a mound for the first time this spring, throwing 15 pitches in the bullpen to catcher Devin Mesoraco.
Broxton is coming back from an operation that repaired a torn flexor mass tendon in his forearm.
"No problems. I got that step out of the way," Broxton said. "I have to keep going step by step. Today was a big step in the right direction, getting off of the mound. I felt nothing. I felt fine throwing. I felt like I could throw it where I kind of wanted."
Broxton, who had been long tossing daily for more than a week, wasn't expecting to have any arm issues on Tuesday from throwing. He will work from a mound again in three days.
"I'm pretty sure it's going to be fine, Broxton said. "If it wasn't, I would have felt something. I didn't feel anything throwing. During the exercises, I didn't feel anything."
Manager Bryan Price does not expect Broxton to be too far behind the other pitchers.
"We have not resigned ourselves to him not making our Opening Day roster," Price said. "He is still a candidate to be ready for that."
Mesoraco supports new collision rule
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Major League Baseball and the Players Association jointly announced Monday that a new experimental rule on home-plate collisions will begin this season.
Rule 7.13 will ban "the most egregious collisions," by disallowing baserunners to deviate in their path to initiate contact with a catcher or any player covering the plate on a play. If the umpire believes a runner created contact, he can rule him out on the play even if the catcher doesn't hold on to a ball. Also, the catcher is unable to block the runner's path to the plate without the ball.
"I heard they wanted to do more and take away any type of contact at the plate at all. I wasn't quite in favor of that," Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco said. "What they have passed now I'm definitely in favor of. I think it makes a lot of sense. It takes away those unnecessary collisions. It's a play that's a lot of fun. I think nothing really gets a team going a whole lot more than a play at the plate."
The new rule does not mandate that runners must always slide, nor that catchers can never block the plate. Instant replay can be used to review possible violations.
Mesoraco does not expect to have to change his catching technique at the plate, but when the rule was still pending, he had talked about it with Reds catching coordinator Mike Stefanski.
"We talked about being more conscious of being safe at the plate, as opposed to trying to bury guys and run into them and make a lot of contact," said Mesoraco, who sustained a concussion from a 2012 collision with the Padres' Cameron Maybin. "At this point, it's smart for me to make sure I'm available to play every day. If I get hurt on a play at the plate by going to get the runner, that's my fault. I'm hurting the team by doing that."
In anticipation of the expanded use of instant replay going into effect this season, the Reds will be one of several teams which meet with MLB officials to go over the process. The meeting is set for Tuesday in Peoria, Ariz.
"From my understanding, it's a fairly extensive review," Price said.