"I told him, 'Go down there, and when you come back, I hope you're here to stay for a long, long time,' " manager Dusty Baker said. "He has the stuff to win."
Bailey was 1-3 with a 5.21 ERA in six starts this spring. He allowed 11 earned runs, 24 hits and 16 walks, and struck out 11 over his 19 innings.
The 21-year-old went into camp with a chance at one of three open rotation spots, but he struggled with his command and often ran up high pitch counts in his outings.
"It wasn't really wildness as much as it was near-control," Baker said. "That shows you how near he is to the big leagues. We had a nice long conversation. You saw how long we stuck with him -- big-time. He was heavily in consideration."
Young pitchers Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez and veteran Josh Fogg appear to have beaten out Bailey for a place in the starting five. The rotation order is expected to be Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Cueto, Fogg and Volquez.
Behind the scenes, more roster jockeying continues. Baker didn't rule out any maneuvers, such as a trade that could help pare some players off the roster.
"Anything is possible at this time," he said. "Everybody is still looking to better themselves in different areas and positions. You still look to see who comes across the waiver wires."
One conundrum is what the Reds might do with reliever Mike Stanton, who is owed $3.5 million for next season, including a 2009 option buyout. Stanton, who already passed through waivers without being claimed, hasn't pitched poorly in camp, but he struggled mightily last season.
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The Philadelphia Daily News reported on Wednesday that the Phillies are seeking a left-handed reliever like Stanton and were dangling corner infielder Wes Helms as a potential return. In terms of salary, it wouldn't be a big difference. Helms is owed $2.9 million, including his 2009 option buyout.
On Tuesday night, Baker, general manager Wayne Krivsky and special assistant Walt Jocketty were among those huddled into roster discussions. Still, the meeting yielded only the Bailey cut and no other developments.
"We did a lot of crossing and mixing and matching of the names," Baker said. "And the names are still the same. It's a tough time to make the club if you're on the bubble. It's a tough time to make these decisions. And it's a tough time to get a job if you don't make it, because everybody has the same roster problems you have.
"I'd like to be more fair about things. If you're going to let a guy go, let him go earlier than this so he can get a chance to get a job. A lot of times, it doesn't work out like that."