Ian Gibaut's setback opens the door for this Reds reliever to make Opening Day roster

Surprisingly, Tejay Antone is a long shot to make the Reds roster this spring.

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tejay Anton throws live batting practice during spring training workouts.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tejay Anton throws live batting practice during spring training workouts. / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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Unlike last spring, when there were about six or seven spots on the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster up for grabs, the number of position battles is hovering somewhere between two and three.

Several starters are jockeying for a spot in the rotation, but if everyone is healthy, it's likely down to a choice between Andrew Abbott, Nick Martinez, and Brandon Williamson. The final bench spot is up for debate as well, with Josh Harrison, Tony Kemp, Jose Barrero, and Stuart Fairchild all trying to lay claim to a spot on the Reds Opening Day roster.

The bullpen, however, seems to be set. Alexis Diaz, Lucas Sims, and Sam Moll will be locking down the late innings, while Martinez, Brent Suter, Buck Farmer, and Emilio Pagán will cover the middle innings. But Ian Gibaut, who's been dealing with a forearm injury this spring, has yet to throw a pitch. That opens the door for Tejay Antone, at one time the most feared reliever, to break camp with the Reds.

Ian Gibaut's setback opens the door for this Reds reliever to make Opening Day roster

Tejay Antone made a name for himself as a spot starter in 2020, and then turned into the Cincinnati Reds' best reliever in 2021. Unfortunately an elbow injury, that resulted in Antone's second Tommy John surgery, befell the right-hander midway his 2021 campaign.

Antone was sidelined for the entire 2022 season, and a setback last spring kept the reliever out of action until September of 2023. Antone made just five appearances last season, one of which came as an opener, and posted a 1.59 ERA with seven punch outs in just over five innings pitched.

When Antone is on his game, only Diaz is his equal; he's that good. But with someone who's injury history is as rocky as Antone's, it's hard for the Reds' front office and coaching staff to push in all their chips and say, "That's our guy."

Antone will have to win a spot on the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster this season, and is in the same spot at Fernando Cruz. Both pitchers have minor-league options remaining, and that flexibility is what may ultimately see Antone begin the 2024 season back in the minors.

But Ian Gibaut's injury may push the veteran begin his 2024 season on the IL as he recovers from a forearm injury. That will open the door for Antone, who pitched a scoreless inning on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Antone has allowed one run on one hit with four strikeouts so far in Cactus League play.

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