CINCINNATI — There is an official Wilson NFL football tucked among some trinkets in Homer Bailey’s locker in the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse, fully inflated.
Some people might believe that because Bailey hasn’t pitched a baseball in a Major League game this year that he might be preparing to challenge Andy Dalton as quarterback of there Cincinnati Bengals.
Even though Bailey is from Texas, where high school football is king, as eulogized in ‘Friday Night Lights,’ Bailey never played football.
“It interfered with deer-hunting season,” said Bailey.
BUT BAILEY DOES TOSS the pigskin around to help build up his arm strength. And he was totally unaware that a former famous pitching coach, Tom House, used to have his pitchers throw footballs between starts, “Because throwing a football is the perfect motion for a baseball pitcher.”
Said Bailey, “I just throw the football a lot. I don’t know anything about Tom House. Really? He had pitchers throw footballs? I can believe that. I like throwing it. Before the season for about a week before I begin my off-season throwing with a baseball I throw the football. I try to throw it as much as I can during there season, too.”
IT WAS HOPED BY THE Reds that Bailey would be ready this weekend to rejoin the rotation after his season-long occupation of the disabled list after his Tommy John surgery last year.
Things, though, didn’t go as swimmingly on Wednesday as all had hoped when Bailey made a rehab start for Class AAA Louisville against the Columbus Clippers. The numbers look bad, but neither Bailey nor manager Bryan Price seemed overly concerned, other than to schedule him for another minor-league rehab start Monday, his sixth.
Bailey pitched 5 1/3 innings Wednesday and gave up five runs and struck out only one and left the mound after throwing 83 pitches.
“I got tired,” he said. “Everything up until the sixth inning was pretty good. Through the fourth I had only 40-some pitches and I was cruising along pretty good. One more time on rehab. I don’t know what the pitch-count is, but we’re doing one more for sure.”
Said Price, “We’ll see where he is after his next rehab start (Monday). We’ll assess to see if he needs to continue to pitch in the minor leagues or if he is ready to join the rotation. Our reports on his last start was that he was very good for five innings and got tired in the sixth. He was smart enough not to force himself beyond that. He was smart enough to acknowledge that he was tired and needed to come out. It is realistic that he should get beyond 90 pitches in this next outing and then we’ll figure out if he is ready to go.”
AS THE NON-WAIVERS TRADE deadline gets closer and closer, Manager Bryan Price was asked if he follows the rumors and reports and speculations.
“I don’t get on-line a great deal and I don’t hear anything at all regarding our players,” he said. “I know that there are names from our team bandied about, but I don’t hear anything to suggest anything is imminent.
“Last year there was a lot of talk and it was realistic,” Price added. “There was talk about Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake and I had a gut feeling those trades would be made before the trade deadline. But at this point in time I don’t have the same feeling about anybody on our team.”
Not even Jay Bruce?
“It is a very difficult situation to handle and I don’t like this time of year at all,” said Price. “It is exciting when you are thinking about adding players. But when you are thinking about subtraction or adding prospects it is really difficult on the club, especially those being mentioned a lot in trade talks. I love Jay Bruce and I’d love for Jay Bruce to be here for a long time. But way more often than not things that are talked about most don’t often come to fruition.”
JOSE PERAZA is 22, at an age when he should be playing every day — if not in the majors, then in the minors preparing for the day he’ll play regularly in the majors. Peraza remains on the Reds roster and Price does his desperate best to find him playing time.
That means Peraza, a shortstop, finds himself playing all over God’s baseball creation — second base, third base, left field, center field, right field and even, once in a while, shortstop.
“Right now on Peraza I am seeing more of what I liked in spring training,” said Price. “His base running instincts are better than I anticipated. His ability to switch positions without losing a step is impressive. You know, it’s a hard thing to do. He came up as a shortstop and was moved to second base and played three positions with the Dodgers. And now he is doing a similar thing with us.
“It has been amazing the way he has been able to perform not playing every day,” Price added. “You don’t expect young guys used to playing every day to play two or three times a week and give you a decent pinch-hit at bat. That’s been a surprise, from a maturity standpoint.”
AS FOR NOW, PRICE is watching closely, observing what Peraza can or can’t do in these days of musical chairs positions. Had Brandon Phillips accepted a trade over the winter, Peraza mostly likely would be the every day second baseman. And perhaps, if Price is brave enough and the front office approves, fans will see more of Peraza and less of Phillips the last couple of months. Certainly at his age Phillips isn’t part of the Reds Reconstruction Era.
“I haven’t seen enough of Peraza yet to come to any conclusions,” said Price. “I just think he is a really good athletic baseball player. He has to create a body of work to define who he is as a player before I can assess him. It’s like somebody saying a player is the next Mickey Mantle. That hasn’t work out very well.
“I’d just like to get to the point where he is playing regularly and we can begin to assess him. I mean, he is only 22 years old, just turned 22 during spring training. By anybody’s standards, that is so young to be at this level and be able to compete and do more than hold his own has been impressive.”