GOODYEAR, Ariz. – Homer Bailey says he expects to be in the rotation and not on the disabled list when the Reds start the season next week.
With four pitchers already earmarked for the DL (not to mention two infielders), Mr. Double-No-Hit would be a welcome sight on the mound in the three-game series against the Cardinals starting Monday at Great American Ball Park.
Bailey, who hadn't pitched in two weeks because of a strained right groin, was encouraged by Monday's five-inning, 76-pitch performance against Dodgers minor leaguers in a Class AAA game.
"I don't know how much you can expect the first time out after taking some time off," Bailey told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. "I did feel kind mechanically a little off from just not being on the mound and stuff. Physically, I felt all right."
Bailey could be on schedule to pitch the third game of the Cardinals series on April 3.
He would join a rotation of Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani and up-to-now reliever Alfredo Simon, who has been preparing to start all spring training since Mat Latos underwent knee surgery on the first day of camp.
Meanwhile, there was good news on the Latos and Jonathan Broxton injury fronts Monday.
Latos tossed three scoreless innings for Double-A Pensacola, and reliever Broxton (August surgery) pitched a scoreless inning for Pensacola.
‘‘It looked like it went OK,’’ manager Bryan Price said of his three mending hurlers. ‘‘Homer’s line (five earned runs) wasn’t great, but it sounded like he was healthy. The ball came out good and he didn’t have any issues. Latos and Broxton threw the ball well. If we can come through this tomorrow and everyone feels good, it will be a good day.’’
Latos threw 43 pitches against the Dodgers' Double-A Chattanooga team in just his second minor-league game since Feb. 14 surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee.
Latos said he felt "ready to go," but Latos and Broxton are destined for the DL along with relievers Aroldis Chapman (hit in the face by a line drive last week) and Sean Marshall (soreness in his left throwing shoulder).
Latos and Broxton will stay in Arizona after the Reds break camp Thursday and pitch in minor-league games.
The Reds play in Pensacola on Friday and Louisville on Saturday before Monday's opener against the Cardinals. Bailey is likely to pitch in Louisville, but Latos and Broxton can't play in those games if the Reds want to backdate their time on the DL.
Marshall has not pitched in a game all spring. He is scheduled to pitch batting practice on Wednesday.
Simon made his sixth spring start for the big club against the Indians Monday and "ran a little hot and cold,’’ Price said.
Simon gave up four runs (three earned) and six hits (two homers) in five innings. The Reds lost, 8-3.
‘‘He made some great pitches," Price said. "He had a really good sinker. He threw the cutter-slider hybrid pitch he has. That was the best I've seen it this spring. When he gets in trouble he tries to get more movement. He doesn’t need to do that.’’
Simon says he want to be a starter again. He started 16 games for Baltimore in 2011 but none for the Reds the last two seasons.
‘‘I am excited to be a starter here,’’ Simon said. ‘‘I threw 91 pitches. I like to throw a lot of innings. I want to show them (Reds) that I can be a starter.’’
Reliever J.J. Hoover, one of the Reds’ options for the closer role with Chapman out, gave up a three-run homer to Cleveland's Jason Kipnis.
Starting the season, Sheldon picks Nick Christiani (0.90), Brett Marshall (2.08) and Pedro Beato (3.38) to sub for Chapman, Broxton and Sean Marshall in the bullpen.
The Reds have two others headed for the DL in Skip Schumaker (.441) and Jack Hannahan (.167). That should open roster spots for Neftali Soto (.381) and Kristopher Negron (.306).
Catcher Devin Mesoraco (.276) is still a question mark to start the season because of a strained oblique. He has not swung a bat since last Wednesday.
Outfielder Roger Bernadina had a pinch-hit single Monday to raise his average to .432 (16 for 37). He's a cinch to make the 25-man roster.
Billy Hamilton (.313) took the day off.
Chris Heisey (.320), batting leadoff and playing center field, went 0-for-4.
Jay Bruce (.283), Joey Votto (.265) and Ryan Ludwick (.260) each had two hits.
The Reds are 12-15 in the Cactus League while the Indians are 17-7.