Live hitters could be in Bailey's near future

Pitcher rehabbing from Tommy John surgery has bullpen session on Thursday

Live hitters could be in Bailey's near future

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds pitcher Homer Bailey appears to be close to the home stretch of his rehab from Tommy John surgery. Bailey has one more bullpen session ahead. If all goes well, he could step on the mound against Reds hitters.

On Thursday, Bailey is slated to have his second 45-pitch bullpen session. On Friday, he also threw 45 pitches and on March 5, he was up to 40 pitches. He's thrown seven times in the bullpen overall since Feb. 19 -- all without issue. Bailey felt he was making good progress, and the club is in agreement.

"I don't have his extended schedule beyond [Thursday], but I think if all goes well, he'll be very close to facing hitters in live batting practice," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Saturday afternoon. "Forty-five pitches is about as far as you need to be getting stretched out in the bullpen. That will be his third extended bullpen."

Bailey, who was limited to two starts last season before he needed right elbow surgery last May, has been setback free. He will begin the season on the disabled list and likely won't be ready for a regular-season game until sometime this May.

"We've stayed on course," Price said. "He hasn't missed anything. He's thrown fastballs, sliders and splits right now efficiently. He certainly doesn't look at all like a rehab pitcher at this point in time."

More items from Saturday:

• Reliever Keyvius Sampson, who has dealt with triceps discomfort in his right arm, resumed throwing in the bullpen on Saturday. It was his first mound work since being scratched from an appearance on March 5.

• Outfielder Kyle Waldrop, who has been limited because of right groin soreness, has resumed running and could get into a game within the next couple of days.

• The Reds could dispense with using the designated hitter by the middle of the coming week and start having their pitchers hit. The team had decent-hitting pitchers in the past such as Mike Leake, Johnny Cueto and Bronson Arroyo. This year, the club has several young pitchers who are inexperienced.

"When we got all those guys at the end of the season, it was really a challenge for some of those guys to get comfortable at the plate," Price said. "We've got to get up to speed that way. It's one more way to keep a guy in the game that you would rather not take out because he's pitching well. But you've got to get a bunt down. If guys can't get it done, I really have to lean towards using somebody off the bench to bunt. That's a bad situation to burn a position player to have to get a bunt down for you, really, before the eighth or ninth inning."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.