Tuesday, January 29th, 2013
Bailey ready to continue success from 2012
Reds' pitcher gets career best in several categories last season
By Gary R. Rasberry
Cincinnati Reds' pitcher Homer Bailey autographs a Reds' cap for a fan on Saturd. . .
CELINA - For Homer Bailey, 2012 was finally the year he showed he belonged with the Cincinnati Reds and in the big leagues.
After five seasons of pitching for the Reds and not having the numbers many thought a first round pick should have, going 25-23 while splitting time between the majors and minors, Bailey had a breakout season in helping the Reds win the National League Central and post the second-best record in Major League Baseball.
After going 9-7 with a 4.43 ERA in 2011, Bailey proved to be the reliable man in the rotation. Starting a NL-best 33 games - which he shared with fellow Reds starters Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos among others - and a career high 208 innings, Bailey was 13-10 with a career best 3.68 ERA and 168 strikeouts.
"I think the biggest thing was staying healthy," said Bailey during a stop with the Reds Caravan for the media at Bella's Italian Grille. "I knew as long as I stayed healthy, I'd get 200 innings, I knew I would have a sub-4.00 ERA. I really didn't have any adjustments to make except to stay healthy. That was the biggest thing."
The biggest moment of the season came on September 28, when Bailey threw his first no-hitter, a 1-0 win over Pittsburgh, becoming the first Reds to post a no-no since Tom Browning's perfect game in 1988.
Bailey admitted that he had no clue that he had a no-hitter going, with his teammates keeping the tradition of not mentioning it as not to jinx the feat.
"I didn't know what was going on until the seventh or eighth," said Bailey. "It was the the sixth inning where I got to 200 innings on the season. I told Hanigan (catcher Ryan Hanigan) that I was at 200 innings for the year and everybody was looking at me like 'Hey, he doesn't have a clue what's going on.' I didn't really care. Never thought it would happen.
"Honestly, we scored a run in the first and didn't score again off A.J. Burnett (who took the loss despite eight innings of seven-hit, one walk baseball). I was just thinking about getting people out in the game. No-hitter kind of came second until the ninth. It was funny. Before the game we had a starting pitchers' meeting and (pitching coach) Brian Price told us that we were going to be cutting back on innings so the guys in the bullpen can be fresh and if (the starter) gets pulled in the sixth and pitch count isn't high, don't be surprised. Then I go out and throw a no-hitter."
Bailey's final start, in Game 3 of the Division Series with San Francisco, was also a gem. Bailey threw seven innings of one-hit, one walk baseball with 10 strikeouts, but the Giants scored a run off him in the top of the third to send the game into extra innings, winning 2-1 in 10 innings. The Giants won the next two games at Great American Ballpark to beat the Reds in the series 3-2 en route to a World Series title.
This year, Bailey should be a lock for the starting rotation after having had to battle for a spot over the past couple of years. With the entire staff - Cueto, Latos, Bronson Arroyo and Mike Leake (Continued from 8)
along with Bailey - intact, and the likelihood that flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman could move from the bullpen to the rotation sometime this season, the Reds are looking good for another run to October.
"I don't see any reason why if we have the same starting five, it wouldn't happen again," said Bailey, talking not only postseason but not the starters not missing a start. "The group we have starting is pretty special. Everybody's diligent about their work and take it seriously."
The executives with the Reds feel that last season was just the tip of the iceberg for the La Grange, Texas native.
"I think you're just starting to see the Homer that everyone thought he would be long term," said Reds' Chief Operating Officer Phil Castellini. "He's just dialing in to be comfortable. I expect to see even better things out of Homer this year than last."
Bailey will now get ready for Spring Training in Goodyear, Arizona. Although his season ended in early October, the off-season hasn't been a lull.
"Off-season really flies by for us," said Bailey. "I start working out in December. As much as people think we get six months off, it's not a vacation. You get a month-and-a-half vacation, then you're back into the grind working out 5-6 days a week getting ready for the season again.