Reds righty Homer Bailey is progressing rapidly in his effort to return from Tommy John surgery, MLB.com’s Barry Bloom writes. The club is targeting a May 1 return, which would be less than a year from the date of his procedure. Manager Bryan Price actually suggested that Bailey could have been ready for the start of the season, but the organization chose not to “push him.” The right represents an important bounceback player to watch, given his huge contract. He says that recovery has been “smoother” than he anticipated and that he’s yet to experience discomfort throwing.
Here’s more from the NL Central:
- There was plenty of news out of Brewers camp today, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports. Top reliever Will Smith is experiencing knee swelling and could miss the start of the season. That would leave Jeremy Jeffress as the obvious choice to handle the 9th while Smith works back to full speed.
- Brewers Rule 5 pick Zack Jones has had shoulder issues all spring long and is going to start out on the DL. That could actually make it easier to keep him, as the team can bring him along slowly and give him some minor league time on a rehab assignment before exposing him to the majors.
- The lower back soreness experienced recently by Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun appears to be an increasing concern. Manager Craig Counsell suggested that the team will exercise caution, but doesn’t expect the problem to disappear in the next few days. “We may have to manage this into the season,” said Counsell. “That’s becoming apparent now.”
- Outfielder Shane Victorino discussed his status with the Cubs with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. It appears he’s still deciding whether to remain in the organization, but doesn’t seem inclined to retire. “I just still want to play the game I love,” Victorino said. “We all want to do that forever, but this time I really felt like I had made a turn for the better this offseason, going back to switch-hitting.” He added that he wouldn’t hesitate to call it quits if he felt otherwise, saying: “I am my hardest critic, so if I feel like I am done, no one would need to make that decision for me.”
- Pirates lefty Cory Luebke has an opt-out date of Tuesday the 29th, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. That’ll be an interesting situation to monitor, as Luebke has reportedly been fairly impressive in camp — as we covered last night.