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Fay: Reds Question 2: What to expect from Homer Bailey

Will he be able to join the rotation?
Fay: Reds Question 2: What to expect from Homer Bailey
Posted at 7:00 AM, Feb 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-10 13:15:06-05

This is the second in a series of nine questions about the Reds as they head toward spring training.

CINCINNATI -- Homer Bailey has gone through the offseason without thinking about his twice-repaired right elbow. He's done all the things he normally does around his Texas ranch.

He started his throwing program on the day he normally does. He expects to have a couple of mound sessions before spring training.

All of that points to Bailey being healthy on or about April 2, Opening Day.

But Bailey has been down this road before. All went as planned last offseason after Tommy John surgery. All went as planned last spring training. All went as planned when the season started. Bailey was a bit behind, but all signs pointed to him going into the rotation in May.

Then he had a setback during a rehab start on April 26. He was shut down.

Bailey didn't make his Reds debut until July 27. He made six starts before having soreness again, and his season ended on Aug. 28.

To say some uncertainty remains around Bailey is an understatement of epic proportions.

But the Reds have little choice but to hope for the best. Bailey still has three years left on his $106 million contract. If he's what he was before the two surgeries, he'll anchor the rotation. If he's not, he's still going to get paid.

Bailey is confident he can come back -- even after two seasons in which he threw a total of 34 innings -- but he knows he's in unknown territory. The fact that this is World Baseball Classic year helps.

"We've got a longer spring training," he said. "I know there's going to have to be adjustments that have to be made. That's something we'll have to map out together."

The encouraging thing about last year -- if there was one -- is that Bailey had his velocity in his six starts. He averaged 92.7 mph on his fastball, according to fangraphs.com. He averaged 92.5 in 2012 when he went 13-10 with a 3.68 ERA.

If Bailey could get back to that, it would go a long way to solidifying the rotation. The Reds are going into spring counting on Bailey for one of the top rotation spots.

If he can't go, that would mean two young unproven starters in the rotation. The Reds are trying to avoid that. That's why they signed right-hander Scott Feldman.

Again, Bailey is optimistic.

"I'm well-rested," he joked at Redsfest.

Question 6: With Homer Bailey out, who joins the rotation?
Question 5: Is Scott Schebler right for right field?
Question 4: Will we see first-half Votto or second-half Votto?
Question 3: Who closes? Storen? Iglesias? Cingrani?
Question 1: Where does Price play top prospect Jose Peraza?