Bailey closing in on returning to Reds

Bailey closing in on returning to Reds

CINCINNATI -- It would seem that Reds pitcher Homer Bailey is on final approach before he's activated from the disabled list following a near 15-month stretch since he had Tommy John surgery. Bailey has made four rehab starts for Triple-A Louisville and has at least one more scheduled on Wednesday.

After that, will the Reds let Bailey land the plane?

"We'll see where he goes after the next start," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Saturday.

In a 4-0 loss to Indianapolis on Friday, Bailey gave Louisville four innings and 67 pitches (44 strikes) with three runs (one earned), three hits, two walks and five strikeouts.

Bailey told reporters in Louisville that he felt like he could have pitched longer, but stuck to the plan that was outlined.

"Not too bad, just not quite as sharp as I want to be," Bailey said on Friday. "Probably one more and being activated, and having some adrenaline is really going to help. It will probably lock in my focus a little better.

"My fastball wasn't quite as sharp as I wanted. My curveball and split were really good today. My slider was kind of 50-50. I made some that I liked, some that I didn't. Other than that, it's kind of a process."

The Reds would like Bailey to reach 85-100 pitches in his next start before they feel comfortable activating him. Even when that day comes, there will still be precautions taken for a pitcher who also had surgery in 2014 to repair a flexor mass tendon tear near the same right elbow that blew out two starts into last season.

"When he is activated there will still be certain protocols that we make sure that we stay within to keep him healthy throughout the rest of the season," Price said.

That could include limiting his pitch counts for the Reds the rest of this season so he can go into 2017 with no limitations or health issues.

"We have to see how he's feeling. We have to be aware," Price said. "I think the biggest thing for myself as manager and Mack [Jenkins] as the pitching coach to realize and remember and constantly be reminded that he's coming off of back-to-back elbow surgeries. As much as he might be going out there and throwing a great ballgame, we have to keep in the back of our minds if has he passed the smell test to allow him to go out there for one more inning or 15 or 20 more pitches? He'll have to grow into that."

Worth noting

• Pitcher Alfredo Simon, who has been on the DL with a strained right trapezius near the shoulder, resumed a throwing program just before the All-Star break. Because Simon last pitched on June 15, he would need to pass multiple checkpoints before being activated -- including a few bullpen sessions, a simulated game and possibly a rehab assignment.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. 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.