GOODYEAR, AZ — For Homer Bailey, Friday was, as he put it, “Sunshine and rainbows.”
On a crisp Arizona morning, Homer Bailey climbed up a pitching mound for the first time since last August, his first real pitching activity sine he underwent surgery last September for a torn flexor in his right elbow.
He threw 20 pitches and said, “Just enough to walk a couple of people, but I threw a no-hitter.”
That’s because there were no batters facing him, he threw to a catcher under the watchful eyes of pitching coach Jeff Pico, general manager Walt Jocketty and trainer Paul Lessard.
“It went pretty good for my first time off the mound in six months,” he said. “All things considered, it went pretty well.”
BAILEY SAID HE had no trepidations, that he didn’t hold back in fear of pain or suffering.
“I was looking so forward to it,” he said. “Even in the off-season playing catch I’d see other guys doing bullpens and in my mind I thought I could still do it. Even when I got out of the brace last season for the first time I thought, “God, I feel like I can just walk to the mound and throw.’ That wasn’t necessarily the case.”
Bailey was all smiles and quips, so it was easy to tell he was proud of himself and pleased with himself. “It was rewarding and felt really good,” he said. “There were a few on which I cut loose and they felt really good. But I’m not going to say that I 100 percent really got after it. You do have to ease into it a little bit.
“Everything was free and easy, though, and everybody else thought it looked good. It felt all right, but it is one step at a time.”
MANAGER BRYAN PRICE said before Bailey’s trip to the mound that it would be four of five bullpens sessions before he faces live hitters, but Bailey hopes he can cut it to three or four before advancing.
“That’s all subject to change,” said Bailey. “I feel great and I hope I can skip a step, or I might have a setback and we’d have to back track a bit. At this point, everything feels great. The next couple of bullpens will be the real test. We will really know where we’re at.”
Said Price, “Today was the initiation of his bullpen. He is behind the other pitchers by three or four bullpens. He’ll have a minimum of four bullpens, maybe five, before he gets to live batting practice. And then we will re-assess. We will not rush him back. We’re not expecting him to be ready for Opening Day, but we’ll see how things go.”
SEAN MARSHALL, the other pitcher being held back, took Thursday off after long-tossing the previous two days. He still hasn’t pitched off a mound and there is no definitive date as to when that might happen.
“His arm was in excellent shape before he had a shoulder flare-up,” said Price. “At least he is not in a situation where he is going back to square one. His arm is strong and he has a very strong shoulder. The trainers have done a great job of getting rid of the soreness and getting his range of motion back where it should be. He will continue to throw for distance, length and duration. Once he is cleared, we’ll get him on the mound. But there is no specific date.”
LOGAN ONDRUSEK, the tall Texan who pitched so well for four years for the Reds before hitting a snag last year, was not offered a contract by the Reds for this year. So he signed a one-year deal with an option in Japan.
“I checked in with him during the winter caravan and he told me he had signed in Japan,” said Price. “It was a guaranteed opportunity as opposed to some non-guaranteed offers he had here in the States.
“It is a great opportunity for him to springboard back to the majors,” Price added. “If you think about it, 2010 through the mid-part of 2012 he was really good, very reliable. Then he went into a funk the last couple of seasons.”
ANORTHER PLAYER from last season, infielder Jack Hannahan, signed to play in Korea after enduring injuries for most of the entire two-year contract he signed with the Reds.
“What an unfortunate career he had with the Reds with the tear in his labrum and tried to come back from that for two years,” said Price “He is a pretty good player and we never got to see that. And he is a terrific guy.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Player can be playful and brutally honest during the conversational interplay and such was the case when Bryan Pena playfully said to Joey Votto, “What happened to you? You went from All-Star to freakin’ Bryan Pena.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY II: Somebody asked Bryan Price, beginning his second season as manager, if Billy Hamilton feels better about himself after his first season, and Price said, “There are a lot of us feeling better about having a year under our belt.”