View Full Version : Narron: Bailey's OK in spotlight

02-22-2007, 02:56 PM
Narron: Bailey's OK in spotlight
By Hal McCoy

Staff Writer

Thursday, February 22, 2007

SARASOTA, Fla. For Homer Bailey, a laptop is a laptop. Every morning at about 8:30, he is seated in front of his locker with a white Mac iBook on his lap.

"Four years old and been all over the world with me," said Bailey, working on e-mails. "Even though a key is missing (the letter 'j'). I just hit it hard and it still works."

Is Bailey the missing key in the Cincinnati Reds rotation? He certainly is a focal point for visiting media, a 20-year-old kid receiving a lot of attention.

Manager Jerry Narron believes the Reds' No. 1 draft pick in 2004 can carry it on his broad shoulders.

"It doesn't concern him because he knows he is pretty good," Narron said. "He knows he has a chance to be pretty good. He also is smart enough to know he isn't going to come right to the major-league level and dominate right from the beginning. He is smart enough to know that and seems very level-headed.

"He works hard, has great stuff and has great makeup and will get every chance," Narron added.

As far as Bailey starting games when the exhibition season begins, Narron is playing it coy and said, "If he starts, I'm not going to tell anybody until the day before. If we have a spot where we can work him in, we'll do it. But we have other guys ahead of him in that regard.

"We'll give him a chance to pitch some this spring, with nothing more defined than for any other pitcher. Hopefully he'll do well and get some more innings. It all depends on how he pitches early, how he throws, how he commands his stuff.

"I told all the pitchers the first day that I'm sorry to say that everybody will not get the same opportunity," Narron added. "I won't lie to them and say they'll all get the same chance, but they're not. Everyone is not going to get the same opportunity, but if they do well they'll be back

out there."

Listen to the radio

Marty Brennaman and his son, Thom, begin their work together on the Reds Radio Network on March 1 in Bradenton, Fla., against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team's first exhibition game.

Newly hired broadcaster Jeff Brantley and Thom Brennaman will do the second game, a night game March 2 in Fort Myers, Fla., against Minnesota. Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall, health permitting, are scheduled for the Sarasota home opener March 3 at Ed Smith Stadium against Minnesota.

Paging Mr. Wilson

Pitcher Paul Wilson realizes this probably is his last hurrah after a litany of injuries the past two years. Nobody is pulling harder for him than Narron.

"He works so hard and will be as prepared as well as he possibly can," Narron said. "It's a matter of whether his arm comes back to where it was. He deserves a chance and he'll get an opportunity. If he comes back we'd have our No. 1 starter from a couple of years ago be our No. 5 starter."

Wilson was the team's best starter in 2004, going 11-6 with a 4.36 ERA, leading the team in starts (29), quality starts (16) and innings pitched (183.2). He was the Opening Day starter in 2005.


02-22-2007, 02:59 PM
Future may come early for ace Bailey


SARASOTA -- Baseball legends like Johnny Bench can come and go from the Cincinnati Reds' spring training complex without hardly being noticed by fans looking for autographs.

But whenever Homer Bailey strolls out to the parking lot, you hear the cries.

"Homer, can you sign this?"

In the short-term memory world of baseball, the 20-year-old is all the buzz around Reds camp this season, even though he's thrown just one bullpen session since pitchers reported and has never played above Double-A.

"The only time I think about it (the attention) is when you guys ask me about it," Bailey said. "I kind of take it with a grain of salt."

In camp, however, he's just one of the mass. He and his fellow pitchers have been spending their days working on their fielding hoping to avoid the fate of last year's Detroit Tigers, whose pitchers set a World Series record with an error in five straight games.

Since starting his second pro season with a modest 3-5 record in the Florida State League as a Sarasota Red, interest in Bailey -- the No. 7 overall pick in the 2004 June Baseball Draft out of high school -- has skyrocketed.

He joined the playoff race with the Double-A Chattanooga (Tenn.) Lookouts and immediately became their star, pitching six scoreless innings while hitting 98 mph on the radar gun with a fastball on his 96th pitch.

"I was here (Sarasota) more to work than necessarily compete," Bailey said. "Once I got to Chattanooga, I just let go and tried to go out and win games. I had to go in and show them I could help."

Immediately the buzz began for Bailey to become a late-season major-league call-up, especially after getting the win in July's nationally televised MLB Futures Game.

The Reds, however, balked at throwing their top prospect and the organization's Minor League Player of the Year into that situation.

This spring, though, they have taken the kid gloves off. The youngster has a shot at making the Opening Day roster as the team's fifth starter behind Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang, Eric Milton and Kyle Lohse.

If not, he'll likely start the season at Triple-A Louisville.

"If I'm up there, I want it to be because I earned it and did well," Bailey said. "I'm not overly impatient about it."

The attention surrounding a pitching prospect like Bailey is heightened because the Reds haven't had anything comparable in recent memory. And with the success of rookie pitchers like Los Angeles' Jared Weaver, Minnesota's Francisco Liriano and Detroit's Justin Verlander last season, there is hope that Bailey could lead this year's class.

But none of that seems to faze the laid-back pitcher who spends his offseason hunting and wears cowboy boots to work.

"I don't think it concerns him," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "I think he knows he's pretty good, and I think he knows he's got a chance to be pretty good. I think he's smart enough to know too that he's not going to come to the major-league level and just dominate from the beginning."

One of the obstacles he'll have to clear this season is learning to use his offspeed pitches, a curveball and changeup that he didn't need much last year.

Major-league hitters are used to fastballs, so Bailey will have to adapt, something he is confident he can do.

"My game plan (last year) was to make them hit the fastball first because it's the toughest thing for them to hit," Bailey said. "Once they start sitting and looking for it, then I'll throw something offspeed."

Narron is staying tight-lipped about his exact plans for Bailey this spring, admitting he'll get a chance but adding, "I know what I'm going to do, but I'm not going to tell you."

Starting a game, especially at home, is still an uncertainty.

"If he starts, I'm not going to tell (the media) until the day he probably starts," Narron said. "If we've got a spot where we might be able to work him in, yeah. But he's got other guys ahead of him in that respect.


02-22-2007, 04:18 PM
A great spring from Bailey would make it really hard to send him to Louisville to start the season. If he struggles with his off speed, that's where I believe he should go. Here's to a great camp for Homer.