SARASOTA, Fla. -- It's getting to be that time, isn't it?
The Reds break camp on Friday, with only Wednesday's road game against the Astros in Kissimmee, Fla., and Thursday's Sarasota finale against the Pirates standing between the team and a trip to North Carolina for the first of two exhibitions (the second one coming in Dayton) before Monday's opener in Cincinnati against the Mets. With so little time remaining, there are still a few roster decisions that need to be made to round out the 25-man roster.
Certain things are set in stone. Assuming health, the starting infield is set, as are the two catchers. Four outfielders are ready to break camp, as is one infielder-outfielder. Four-fifths of the starting rotation is locked in and six of the seven members of the bullpen -- again, assuming health -- are ready to go.
That's 21 players, leaving four spots officially up for grabs. How's that going to pan out? Let's take a closer look:
No. 5 starter
Micah Owings made his final start on Tuesday against the Yankees. He pitched into the sixth and gave up four runs, but just one earned, on six hits and three walks while striking out five. He got his pitch count up to about 100, so he's ready to go -- should he get the nod. He's gone 3-1 with a 1.52 ERA over 23 2/3 spring innings, yielding 20 hits and 10 walks while striking out 24.
Homer Bailey, the other competitor, made his final start in Kissimmee on Wednesday against the Astros. Heading into that start, the right-hander was 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA in 14 2/3 innings. He'd allowed 14 hits and three walks while striking out 12. All signs pointed to Owings getting the job, but nothing has been set in stone.
"I haven't heard yet," Owings said following his start on Tuesday. "I remember when I found out in 2007, I think we had an exhibition at Chase Field [the Diamondbacks' home park]. I think I found out that game, the day before we broke camp. Again, I know that stuff takes care of itself. I'll keep focusing on what I can do on the field.
"I can see a couple of things I can work on as I move forward and get ready. It's go time, no matter what happens."