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Bailey struggles with command in first '17 start

Righty gives up 8 runs in 1 2/3 innings of work in comeback from surgery
MLB.com @m_sheldon

Homer Bailey hadn't pitched for the Reds since Aug. 28, 2016, and his long-awaited 2017 debut on Saturday vs. the Nationals proved not only anticlimactic, but disappointing and disastrous.

Bailey lasted only 1 2/3 innings and didn't give his club much of a fighting chance during an 18-3 loss to Washington. While throwing 61 pitches, he was charged with eight earned runs, six hits and three walks with two strikeouts.

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Homer Bailey hadn't pitched for the Reds since Aug. 28, 2016, and his long-awaited 2017 debut on Saturday vs. the Nationals proved not only anticlimactic, but disappointing and disastrous.

Bailey lasted only 1 2/3 innings and didn't give his club much of a fighting chance during an 18-3 loss to Washington. While throwing 61 pitches, he was charged with eight earned runs, six hits and three walks with two strikeouts.

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"The command and location in and around the zone wasn't very good," Reds manager Bryan Price told reporters in Washington. "He was certainly a lot more acute in his Minor League outings. There were a lot of misses that ended up being very good pitches to hit and they didn't miss them. It's really nothing more than that. It just wasn't very good pitch execution today."

Between Aug. 7, 2014, and Saturday, Bailey was limited to eight starts in the big leagues. During that span, he endured three elbow surgeries -- a repair of a torn flexor mass tendon in 2014, Tommy John surgery in '15 and an arthroscopic procedure that removed bone chips on Feb. 18.

Ahead of his return, Bailey had three successful starts in his Minor League rehab assignment, going 3-0 with 1.08 ERA. The Nationals certainly proved to be much more formidable.

Bailey only surrendered two runs in the bottom of the first inning, but he needed 31 pitches to get through the frame. Three of the first four batters reached, and a Ryan Zimmerman double made it 2-0 in a hurry.

Video: CIN@WSH: Zimmerman cracks two-run double to right

The wheels came clean off in the six-run second inning where Bailey gave up four hits and two walks. Daniel Murphy hit a bases-clearing double for three runs and Anthony Rendon's RBI double made it 7-0 and gave Bailey's debut a speedy conclusion.

"I would say the biggest thing was fastball command," Bailey told reporters. "We were behind a lot of hitters. I walked three -- that's more than I walked in all of my starts combined leading up to this.

"With a lineup like that, if you're not sharp they're going to make you have a long day, regardless of who you are or what kind of stuff you're featuring."

Video: CIN@WSH: Rendon rips RBI double down left-field line

If there was any silver lining to be had, it was that Bailey seemed to have decent velocity. According to Statcast™, his fastball velocity averaged 94.2 mph and he topped out at 95.8 mph.

"Stuff-wise, other than command, it was pretty good," Bailey told reporters. "I have no excuses. I just didn't pitch well today. That's all I can say."

The Reds are hoping that Bailey -- the 12th different starting pitcher they've used this season -- can bring veteran stability to a rotation that has the highest ERA and lowest number of innings in the Majors.

Another rotation member will return Monday, when Brandon Finnegan is scheduled to make his return from the disabled list after not pitching since April with a teres major strain near his left shoulder.

Bailey's arm came out of the start feeling OK, he said. Price would like health concerns for pitchers like Bailey and Finnegan to not be focal points over performance and the bottom line.

"We can safely say those are topics we don't need to discuss, for any other reason that he's done the rehab, he's checked off all the boxes," Price said of Bailey. "The sooner we can get away from treating these guys coming back to us as rehabs, the better off we are."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Homer Bailey