CINCINNATI -- I don’t think they’ll do it, but it has to be tempting.
The temptation: For the Reds to skip Homer Bailey’s final minor league rehab start and put him on the big league mound five days from now.
Bailey threw six scoreless, one-hit innings Wednesday night for Single-A Dayton. He struck out six and walked none. He threw 76 pitches, 54 of which were strikes. His previous rehab outing -- for Double-A Pensacola -- was just as impressive. He went five shutout innings, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out five.
Of course, Bailey would be facing Major Leaguers, not minor leaguers, if the Reds decided to skip the last rehab start. But if Bailey’s healthy, which he seems to be, he’s going to be effective -- or should at least be as effective as most of the Reds' current rotation.
But, again, I don’t see the Reds doing anything that could possibly jeopardize Bailey long-term, although it’s hard to imagine throwing 100 pitches for Triple-A Louisville is much different than throwing 100 pitches for the Reds.
Caution is the approach here. After all, Bailey’s spent most of the last 2 1/2 seasons rehabbing from three elbow surgeries.
The good news is Bailey seems to be over the hump. Getting him back would be a huge boost. The Reds have done a decent job in holding down the fort while Bailey, Brandon Finnegan and Anthony DeSclafani are on the disabled list.
Bailey is proud of the job his guys have done.
“It means a lot to me,” he told the Dayton Daily News after his outing. “A lot of those are guys I’ve been playing with a long time, and just keeping up you can see the way they’re battling day in and day out. The bullpen has done an outstanding job. The hitters have done an outstanding job. You know the starters are grinding trying to figure everything out, so just to be prepared to be back up there and be around (manager Bryan Price) and (pitching coach Mack Jenkins) and everybody and start playing again.”
As tempting as it is, it’s probably prudent to wait an extra five days for that to happen.
John Fay is a freelance sports columnist; this column represents his opinion. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org