Homer Bailey: To pitch or not to pitch this year

CINCINNATI — Homer Bailey, hoping to perform again on the pitcher’s mound this season, performed in the bullpen Tuesday afternoon.

There are those who wonder, “What’s the point? What is there to gain? Shouldn’t the team just shut him down and let him heal and recover over the winter and be ready for spring training?”

Manager Bryan Price said that consideration is on the table, but it depends upon how Bailey feels Wednesday after his Tuesday bullpen session.

“There has been some thought about it (shutting him down) if the biceps soreness and stiffness continues,” said Price. “It is something that is not uncommon. It is a common malady for pitchers. After he throws today that will tell us a lot about what he can and can’t do.

“For many of us in the organization we’d like to see him pitch because he has worked so hard to get over the elbow injury,” Price added. “Now he has what is a fairly common pitching malady that with a bit of rest and a brief throwing program he can return in short order from it.”

BAILEY TOOK THE FIRST STEP BACK with his 44-pitch bullpen session before Tuesday’s game and preferred not to speak to the media afterward and said, “I just threw a bullpen. I don’t need to talk.” But pitching coach Mack Jenkins was his stand-in and was precise and concise.

“He improved from where he was and we’ll see how he is tomorrow and throw another bullpen on Friday,” said Jenkins. Asked if Bailey was pain-free, Jenkins said, “He was better than he has been. He threw his whole arsenal and threw high-quality pitches. The ball was coming out hot.”

Asked about his return, Jenkins said, “That’s a goal. Whether it happens, we’ll see how he is tomorrow. And he let it go hard today. He is frustrated but his objective is to do everything he can do to get back in a game in 2016. Whether it happens, we’ll have to wait and see.”

ISN’T THERE A RISK OF RE-INJURY or a major setback by having him continue?
“None of us feel that we are risking his health by having him pitch, if he is back to feeling healthy,” said Price. “We’re certainly not going to give him a huge chunk of time off and then give him the bum’s rush to get him back into a game. We’ll do everything responsibly that our doctors, trainers, Homer, Dr. Kremchek, Walt Jocketty and Dick Williams say is OK.

“If all goes well (Tuesday), we can build a schedule around him that will allow him to get back to pitching,” said Price.

THERE IS THE SAME CONCERN about shortstop Zack Cozart, who was out of the lineup again Tuesday for the third straight game. His knee, surgically repaired late last season, is barking.

“We are at the mercy of how his knee responds on a daily basis,” said Price. “It is just a part of the recovery from his major surgery. That patella tendon gets cranky. We’re finding that it takes more than one day to calm down.”

And maybe they shouldn’t shut Cozart down, too.

“I don’t think he would want to do that and I wouldn’t do that if it is something that is just an occasional flare-up,” said Price. “I would like to find a way to sense that it is coming, but we can’t. Maybe we need more of some scheduled days off rather than going day-by-day to see how it feels. We’ve done everything we can to keep him on the field and to keep him off when he needs to be off.”

Price believes that both for Bailey and Cozart that their regular off-season regimen, their regular routines, will get them ready for next season and said, “Just the fact that they won’t have to play baseball or be in the training room for a while will do them some good. Just to rest and have a normal off-season.”

RELIEF PITCHER MATT MAGILL did not expect to be called up from Class AAA Louisville after the season, particularly because he was not on the 40-man roster.

But when pitcher Alfredo Simon decided on surgery that ended his season, the Reds selected Magill’s contract.

One problem? Magill already had packed his gear and driven his car from Louisville to his Phoenix home. When he got the call, he repacked his car and drove from Phoenix to Cincinnati. “Only about 4,000 miles in a couple of days,” he said. But well worth it.

IT WAS PICTURE DAY for the Reds before Tuesday’s game, with the entire team posing for the team photo. One person suggested, “The should use that photo for a fan contest. Distribute the photo but don’t put any names on it and have the fans identify the players and the fan who getrs the most right wins that Toyota Tundra up on that pedestal in left center field.”


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