APRIL 29: The Reds have moved Bailey to the 60-day DL, per a club announcement.
APRIL 28: One alternative to surgery for Bailey is a platelet-rich plasma injection, writes Fay. Price mentioned the possibility when discussing Bailey’s status with reporters today. As Fay notes, right-hander Carlos Contreras, who was called up to the Majors to replace Bailey, avoided Tommy John surgery in 2010 by undergoing a PRP.
APRIL 27: Reds starter Homer Bailey was placed on the DL today with what the club is calling a right elbow ligament sprain. Manager Bryan Price indicated that the injury could be serious, as John Fay and C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer were among those to report (Twitter links).
Price did not offer a precise diagnosis or timetable, but did not express much optimism. “He certainly won’t be pitching here in the near future,” said Price. He added: “It’s messy and unbelievably unfortunate both for him as an individual and for our ball club.”
Bailey suffered a torn flexor mass tendon late last year, undergoing surgery in early September. The right-hander rehabbed and returned after missing just a few starts to open 2015, but it now seems that return may be short-lived.
In his two outings this year, Bailey lasted 11 1/3 innings but compiled just three strikeouts against four walks while permitting seven earned runs to cross the plate. An even more troubling trend from the early going is a marked velocity decline. Bailey had thrown his fastball at an average rate of just over 94 mph over each of the last two seasons, but was clocking a mean offering of just 91 mph in 2015.
The news is deeply concerning for a Cincinnati club that already has its share of short-term and long-term issues. Bailey was one of several pitchers nearing free agency when the team locked him up to a six-year, $105MM deal before last season.
Bailey earned that payday with two straight 200+ inning seasons, including a strong 2013 performance. He threw well enough last year, even if he did not continue to progress, before going down to injury.
All involved certainly hoped for a quick return to form this season, but that seems increasingly out of reach. Beyond the present season, the Reds are obligated to pay Bailey $86MM from 2016-19 (including the buyout on a 2020 mutual option) under the backloaded deal structure that was agreed to.