Bailey unlikely to return during final week

Reds had hoped the right-hander could make start before season's end

Bailey unlikely to return during final week

MILWAUKEE -- The Reds' hopes to get pitcher Homer Bailey back for a couple of starts before the end of the season had all but faded on Sunday. Bailey is recovering well from right biceps tenderness, but he has seemingly run out of time to return.

"He's thrown bullpens, he's thrown pain free and now you're getting to the point where it's been four weeks since he's pitched," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Typically someone in that type of environment would go and pitch in a Minor League rehab game under controlled circumstances as best that you can. It's not impossible, but improbable that he'll pitch this year from my perspective and what I've seen."

Bailey, 30, returned July 31 after he missed 15 months because of Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. In six starts, he was 2-3 with a 6.65 ERA. His best start was his third one, on Aug. 12 at Milwaukee, tossing six scoreless innings with three hits, one walk and 11 strikeouts for a 7-4 victory.

Bailey K's 11 in scoreless start

But there were struggles over Bailey's final two starts, which totaled 3 1/3 innings. He left his outing on Aug. 28 at Arizona and was later diagnosed with the biceps tenderness. His surgically-repaired right elbow has had no issues, however.

"Enough time has passed that it almost doesn't make sense to get him back out there unless we agree it's just for a short stint - a two or three inning start," Price said. "That's the only thing I see that has any possibility of happening before the year is out. A short start but not really a competitive five-plus innings start. I think that would be unrealistic to anticipate where that could happen."

The Reds have not named their starting pitchers for the final series this weekend against the Cubs. With Bailey not likely to return and Brandon Finnegan expected to make his final start on Sunday against the Brewers, Price might need to dip into his bullpen again for a starter. That could potentially give a start to either Josh Smith or Keyvius Sampson.

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.