CINCINNATI — Reliever Jonathan Broxton could be ready to pitch next week, giving the Cincinnati Reds an experienced closer until Aroldis Chapman is ready to return from a head injury.
Manager Bryan Price said Wednesday that if all goes well, Broxton could be activated off the 15-day disabled list during a series in St. Louis at the start of next week. Broxton is recovering from surgery on his pitching forearm last August.
One of Cincinnati’s biggest concerns entering the season is the lack of a proven closer because of injuries.
Chapman was hit on the forehead by a line drive during spring training and had a plate inserted above his left eye. He’s not expected back until May. For now, Price is splitting the role depending upon how the game goes and which hitters are due up in the final inning.
Broxton saved 23 games for Kansas City in 2012 and four more for the Reds after a midseason trade. He was used in a setup role last season.
“Once he gets reacquainted with being back here, he’ll be that guy to hold down the fort until Chapman’s ready to go,” Price said.
Left-hander Sean Marshall, limited by longstanding shoulder problems, also could come off the disabled list in the middle of the month, Price said.
Until Broxton is back, Price will pick his closer on a game-by-game basis. He had J.J. Hoover warming up in the eighth inning of a 1-0 loss to St. Louis on Monday, getting him ready in case the Reds took the lead.
“He was the guy to close out that particular situation,” Price said. “I’m not to the point where I’m going to designate a guy at this point. We anticipate Broxton being back relatively quickly.”
The Reds opened the season with eight players on the disabled list, their most since 2007. After a three-game series against the defending National League champions, they play a three-game series in New York against the Mets over the weekend, then go to St. Louis for three more.
Starter Mat Latos had surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee Feb. 14, the day camp opened. He’s scheduled to pitch in a minor league game in Pensacola, Fla., on Thursday. He’ll also pitch for Triple-A Louisville in Columbus next week.
If he gets through those two games without a problem, he’ll rejoin the rotation.
Catcher Devin Mesoraco also could rejoin the club next week. He’s on the disabled list with a strained oblique.