Bailey good enough to start?

Reds notebook

BY JOHN FAY | ENQUIRER STAFF WRITER

DUNEDIN, Fla. - When Reds manager Jerry Narron was asked if left- vs. right-handers would be a factor in choosing between Justin Germano and Michael Gosling, he kept his answer simple.

"It doesn't matter," Narron said. "It's going to be the guy who we think has the best chance to get people out."

That led to the next logical question: What if you determine Homer Bailey has a better chance to get people out than Germano or Gosling?

"That's a good question," Narron said.

Narron said that sometimes, from where he sits, Bailey looks like the best choice when it comes to getting people out. And the Reds very well could have an opening in the rotation if Paul Wilson isn't ready when the season starts.

But that does not mean Bailey will get the nod.

"Sometimes you have to do what's best for the long haul, not the short term," Narron said.

Bailey, 19, the Reds' No. 1 draft pick in 2004, has pitched well so far in spring training. His ERA (3.86) is better than Germano's (4.85) and Gosling's (5.68).

But the Reds won't rush Bailey.

"We think Homer can be a great pitcher," Narron said. "Part of that process includes time in the minor leagues. Homer understands that."

Narron said Bailey has to work on putting hitters away. His stuff is so good that hitters tend to foul off a lot of pitches, which runs up Bailey's pitch count.

Bailey is pitching today in one of the split-squad games. The Reds want Bailey to get as many innings as possible.

"I'm very impressed (so far)," Narron said. "He doesn't look like a 19-year-old out there. He's very composed."

GRIFFEY ON WAY: With the United States eliminated from the World Baseball Classic, Ken Griffey Jr. will return to the Reds shortly.

Narron did not know exactly when. He doesn't expect Griffey to join the club today in Orlando, Fla.

"I don't know what the rules are," Narron said. "What did he get, 20 at-bats (in the WBC)? He's probably more ready than anyone we've got."

Griffey went 11-for-21 with three home runs and 10 RBI in the Classic.

Javier Valentin, who played for the Puerto Rican team, returned to the Ed Smith Complex Friday.

He'll play today against Pittsburgh.

MILTON UPDATE: Left-hander Eric Milton pitched six innings in a simulated game Friday. He allowed one run on five hits, walked none and struck out two.

Milton is coming back from a strained calf.

"He fielded a couple of bunts," general manager Wayne Krivsky said. "He had no problems."

The Reds will wait to see how Milton feels today before deciding when he can pitch in a game.

GREAT DANE: Valentin's return will mean a severe reduction in Dane Sardinha's playing time.

Sardinha has impressed Narron.

"I was very impressed with the way he received the baseball," Narron said. "He's a good catcher. He gets rid of the ball quick. The more I saw of him, the more I liked him."

Defense has never been a problem for Sardinha, the team's second-round pick in 2000.

And his offense?

"He hit some balls hard," Narron said.

Sardinha is hitting .250 for the spring after going 1-for-3 with two RBI Friday.

E-mail jfay@enquirer.com

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