GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds manager Bryan Price doesn't expect right-hander Mat Latos to be ready for the start of the season, leaving Cincinnati's rotation in flux for the opening weeks.
Latos had surgery to repair cartilage in his left knee on Feb. 14, the day that pitchers and catchers reported for spring training. He is scheduled to pitch in a minor league game on Monday, a week before the opener. It'll be only his second appearance since the surgery.
Although his knee is fine, he won't have enough time to get for the first week of the season. Price said on Friday that it's reasonable to assume that Alfredo Simon will take his spot in the rotation at the outset.
"We want to make sure that Mat has every opportunity to be ready when he gets that first major league assignment," Price said. "I think we are doing our due diligence by insuring that he gets at least five starts here."
The Reds have been getting Simon ready to start since they learned of Latos' injury. The right-hander went 6-4 with a 2.87 ERA last season in 63 relief appearances. He was a starter with Baltimore in 2011.
The move will further deplete the bullpen. The Reds will open the season without closer Aroldis Chapman, who was hit in the head by a line drive and had surgery on Thursday to have a plate installed above his left eye to help fractures heal.
Reliever Jonathan Broxton hasn't fully recovered from surgery on his forearm last season. Left-hander Sean Marshall has been slowed this spring by a sore shoulder. Both are likely to start the season in the disabled list with Latos.
"That's quite possible," Price said.
With Chapman, Broxton and Marshall out, the Reds don't have anyone with significant time as a major league closer.
"Any one of the guys that have been with us can close -- (Sam) LeCure, (J.J.) Hoover, (Logan) Ondrusek, (Manny) Parra," Price said. "I have confidence in the guys that we know can make our club.
"At this point in time, I won't name a closer. We may never name a closer. Broxton hopefully will be ready in short order, within the first week or two of the season, but then again we have to get him acclimated to be back in the big leagues also."