• Ken Rosenthal (Fox Sports) wrote a great post this morning on Reds pitcher Raisel Iglesias, explaining the lengths the Reds organization went to sign the Cuban pitcher.

Ask Iglesias why he signed with the Reds, and he will tell you that the franchise is one of the “most historic” in baseball, and that he wanted to join his countrymen — Pena, Chapman and minor-league outfielder Felix Perez. He also said the Reds showed more interest in him than any other club. No one knows if Iglesias can handle a starter’s workload (he was mostly a reliever in Cuba) or if he will make a significant contribution this season (it has been about a year and a half since he pitched competitively). But he shows savvy on the mound, an ability to set up hitters, a willingness to throw any pitch in any count. In a recent Cactus League game, he threw the Giants’ Adam Duvall a 3-0 slider for a strike. Like all Cuban defectors, he is a profile in courage, and like Chapman, a symbol of the Reds’ scouting moxie.

• Homer Bailey remains on target to pitch for the Reds in mid-April (Doug Miller, MLB.com). Bailey is scheduled to pitch Sunday in a minor league game.

The good news for the Reds is that Bailey is still on schedule. The right-hander threw a bullpen session on Thursday and will now be targeted for an outing Sunday in a controlled environment against Minor Leaguers. Reds manager Bryan Price said the team felt that Bailey accomplished what he needed to with the one live batting-practice session last Thursday. “We’re all comfortable with that,” Price said. “He’s passed all the tests.” Price said the plan for Sunday will be about 30 pitches in two innings, giving Bailey the simulation of a real start in that he’ll pitch an inning, sit down and then pitch another. That outing would set him up for another five days later in which the Reds would plan to get him to three innings and 45-50 pitches.

Walt Jocketty said on MLB Radio yesterday that Bailey may miss just one start. Evidence for that is the Reds’ plan (John Fay) to have the Texan pitch only in minor league games during spring training so he can start the regular season on the DL but backdated to allow him to pitch fairly soon after Opening Day. If he misses one turn in the rotation, that could mean he would return in St. Louis on the weekend of April 17-19. 

• Veteran sports writer and one of the best in the business, Richard Justice (MLB.com), talked to Joey Votto and concludes the slugger is healthy and confident about his return. 

He feels good. He feels confident. Little by little, he’s finding he can do the things he usually has done better than almost anyone. In other words, he’s feeling like Joey Votto again. … None of baseball’s really elite players has been as subject to as much idiotic criticism as Votto in recent years. First, there was the notion he needed to be more aggressive at the plate, that he needed to stop drawing walks and start hitting home runs. Yes, some people actually thought Votto would be more productive if he swung at more bad pitches and made more outs. If you take a moment to think through the logic of that criticism, your head might explode. And then last season, it got worse when there was the implication from some that Votto should attempt to play through his injury, that he lacked toughness. Never mind that he did attempt to play hurt.

Also, great quotes from Votto in that article.

The Reds first baseman played only a few innings on Wednesday because he had taken *seven* at bats (including a home run) and played in a minor league game on Tuesday. Manager Bryan Price says Votto looks great (Fay).

He (Votto) played in a minor league game and got seven at-bats. He was on base six times — he hit a home run, got hit by a pitch and walked four times. “He ran the bases every time,” Price said. “He was running around the bases quite a bit. We left (Wednesday) open. He really wanted to play, so we cut him back by an inning.” Overall, Votto has been fine, despite missing 100 games last year with knee/quad injuries. “There’s one benefit from injury and that’s the ability to completely focus on your rehabilitation and your overall strength because you don’t have to compete through it,” Price said. “That’s what he did. He looks good. He looks spry — that’s the best word — he looks agile and spry, a lot of energy. I think he looks as good as he’s looked in a couple of years.”

• Kevin Goheen (Fox Sports Ohio) has your daily Kristopher Negron fix.

It’s 6:15 in the morning. First things first for Kristopher Negron: coffee. Negron then grabs some breakfast before stretching and getting his work day started. He heads out to one of the half fields the Reds have set up at their spring training complex to take ground balls, then to the batting cages. He’s not the only player who shows up early for work – manager Bryan Price says only a few aren’t in the facility by 7:30 even though official dressed and on-time isn’t until an hour later – but it’s a routine Negron won’t break away from.

• In a move that surprised many, the Reds announced earlier this week that lefty Tony Cingrani would pitch out of the bullpen. Mike Petriello (FanGraphs) makes a strong case that the decision puts Cingrani in a better position to succeed.

With a nod to the fact that we don’t know how much resistance Cingrani is going to put up to the move, he really seems like the perfect candidate. He’s got one good pitch, maybe two. He’s got good velocity as a starter that could potentially be elite as a reliever from the left side, and there’s enough concern about his durability to make the idea of limiting his workload appealing.

• On the other hand, Dave Cameron (FanGraphs) argues that for the Reds to compete this year, they will need players to out-perform their expectations. He believes this is unlikely for veteran pitchers Jason Maquis and Paul Maholm, both signed to minor league contracts. Cameron characterizes Bryan Price’s apparent decision to use Marquis in an extended role as a starter as playing it too safe.

The Reds don’t have the luxury of playing it safe with low-upside veterans. Given their competition in the NL Central and the impending decision they have on Cueto and Leake come the trade deadline, this isn’t even a team that can afford to get out of the gates slowly. If Jason Marquis and Paul Maholm are still pitching for the Reds in June, then I’d guess it’s pretty unlikely that Cueto or Leake will be pitching for them in August.

When you’re not a great team and you’re still trying to win, you have to take big risks. If the Reds really are going to roll with two replacement level veterans, they probably aren’t going to find those dozen extra wins they need in order to be this year’s Royals. At least with the young kids you can hope for the unexpected. Based on this plan, I’m not really sure what Reds fans are left hoping for now.

• The Reds play the San Francisco Giants tonight in Scottsdale. The game will be broadcast live (9:05 ET) on the MLB Network and on radio at MLB.com. Anthony DeSclafani was scheduled to start yesterday’s game against Texas that was rained out.