Finally 'normal Homer' as Bailey throws BP

Reds' righty targets May for return from Tommy John

Finally 'normal Homer' as Bailey throws BP

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The comeback effort from his May 8 Tommy John surgery finally has a finish line that seems in sight for Reds pitcher Homer Bailey. For the first time this spring, Bailey threw to hitters and came away feeling good.

Bailey faced teammates Billy Hamilton, Eugenio Suarez, Brandon Allen and Scott Schebler in the equivalent of one inning's worth of live batting practice. Other than a couple of foul balls, there wasn't much contact by the hitters and nothing was put into play.

"We still have a few steps to go, but the upside is everything felt as expected, which was normal," Bailey said. "I really don't have much to report."

Reds Spring Training info

Among the next few steps that await Bailey is another live batting practice session, followed by a simulated game. If all goes well, he could pitch in a Minor League spring game in Arizona by the beginning of April. There will likely be a Minor League rehab assignment after that.

A return to the rotation in early-to-mid May is still the target goal.

Bailey, who was limited to two starts last season before tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow and only 23 games in 2014 because of a flexor mass tendon tear, was happy his long road back was nearing completion.

"I was ready to start again May 9 [in 2015], but at this point it seems like it's so close," Bailey said. "I know we're trying to get our first game in early April so it's just going along with the schedule. They're only going to let me go so fast so I might as well just kick back and enjoy it."

Bailey has been setback-free since his operation and manager Bryan Price has been pleased with what he's seen during throwing sessions. There have been nine bullpen sessions, with the last three reaching 45 pitches.

"Really good. He's been feeling good," Price said. "You guys are seeing him in the bullpen, it's like normal Homer."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.