Bailey on track to return for Sunday start

Bailey on track to return for Sunday start

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Reds still have Sunday's starter vs. the Padres listed as "TBA," only because they haven't formally signed off that Homer Bailey has gotten through all of his in-between-starts protocols. But as he rejoined the club Tuesday, Bailey felt everything was about right for his return.

"If it's not now, it probably never will be," said Bailey, who has been working to come back from May 2015 Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

In his sixth rehab-assignment start for Triple-A Louisville on Monday, Bailey pitched 4 1/3 innings and allowed two runs, five hits and four walks with four strikeouts. He threw 98 pitches with 57 strikes.

"I kind of lost focus there at the end," he said. "The first three innings were really good, really sharp. The last two, I just didn't pitch very well.

"The pitching coach came in and ... he said, 'You're about at 90, how do you feel?' I didn't have any idea I had thrown 90 pitches. That's a pretty good sign, I guess."

Over the past calendar year, Bailey has been limited to five big league starts. In August 2014, he had surgery to repair a torn flexor mass tendon near the same elbow.

On his path pack from the Tommy John surgery this year, Bailey endured a late setback in April when he was close to being activated. That's partially why the club is being extra methodical that no issues crop up as he prepares for his 2016 debut.

"He'll continue to do all of his between-start work with us here, and we'll assess that in the next couple days," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Quite often, the day after you pitch and you have all that extra soreness, you consider everything standard. In the days that follow, sometimes the regular soreness goes away and the less-typical soreness remains, and those are the times we get a little concerned. I don't expect that at all. I think he's fine, I think he's conditioned, I think he's ready to pitch for us."

Bailey acknowledged his arm will have soreness that goes beyond what he would have considered normal before two surgeries.

"It's been almost two years since I've been completely healthy. It's going to feel different," Bailey said. "It's something I will have to deal with the rest of the year. I thought after the last start, I was really sore. But on the fifth day, I was ready to go. That was a good thing to see."

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