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Bailey set for Reds rotation return tonight

MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Just before he was placed on the disabled list June 2 with right knee inflammation, things appeared strained between the Reds and veteran starting pitcher Homer Bailey. Not only was he struggling, but he had learned he was being demoted to the bullpen for the first time in his career.

One day away from returning from the DL, and going back into the rotation on Tuesday when he starts vs. the Cardinals, are Bailey and the club in a better place?

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CINCINNATI -- Just before he was placed on the disabled list June 2 with right knee inflammation, things appeared strained between the Reds and veteran starting pitcher Homer Bailey. Not only was he struggling, but he had learned he was being demoted to the bullpen for the first time in his career.

One day away from returning from the DL, and going back into the rotation on Tuesday when he starts vs. the Cardinals, are Bailey and the club in a better place?

View Full Game Coverage

"I think as long as I can be a little more effective that you're going to be in a better place. Hopefully we can do that," Bailey said Monday.

Bailey made his last big league start May 28 at Arizona and is 1-7 with a 6.68 ERA in 12 starts this season.

Video: CIN@ARI: Bailey K's Goldschmidt in the 1st

In seven rehab assignment games for Triple-A Louisville -- including six starts -- Bailey posted a 4.78 ERA. His final two starts were the most effective. On July 13, he struck out 10 batters over six innings while giving up four earned runs vs. Columbus. On Wednesday vs. Rochester, he pitched seven scoreless innings with four hits, three walks and three strikeouts, while throwing 110 pitches.

"It was good, last couple of starts, I threw over 100 pitches and got some good results, so here we are," Bailey said.

In the midst of the rehab assignment, on July 8, the Reds revealed they wanted to try Bailey in the bullpen and see if he could make it work as a reliever. It was something he had never done in the big leagues, but he pitched two scoreless innings with one hit, two walks and one strikeout. But the club reversed course and had Bailey start again.

Bailey was asked what didn't work for him while trying to work in relief.

"I think the list is shorter to say what worked. There was nothing. I'm starting tomorrow, let's not go there," he replied.

The Reds are in a situation where they have little room to maneuver. Bailey, who has endured three elbow surgeries from 2014-17, hasn't pitched well this season. But under his six-year contract, he's making $21 million this season, and is owed an additional $23 million for '19. He has a $25 million club option for '20 that has a $5 million buyout.

To fit Bailey into the rotation, the Reds are temporarily employing a six-man rotation. That situation will likely be resolved after the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline with whether or not right-hander Matt Harvey is traded.

Interim manager Jim Riggleman didn't find the situation awkward.

"I think it would be more awkward if it were unheard of," Riggleman said. "More and more teams, I saw where the Dodgers and Tampa are going to six. A couple of teams have said, 'We are going to six now.' It is not as awkward it would be if we were the only or first team doing it. With the way they have added the off-days, so many guys are pitching on more than four days rest now anyways. With us not having any off-days during this stretch, guys will be pitching on five days' rest, which is what we have done a lot anyways with the off-days."

Gennett sick

Riggleman wasn't planning on giving Scooter Gennett any days off following his participation in the All-Star Game last week, but circumstances changed Monday. Gennett is sick and was not put in the starting lineup. Brandon Dixon started at second instead.

It isn't expected to be a long-term issue for Gennett, who was expected to take some grounders in the afternoon to see how much he could do.

"Spoke to him a little earlier in the day and he wasn't feeling well," Riggleman said. "He's not feeling at full strength."

Blandino undergoes knee surgery

Reds infielder Alex Blandino had right knee surgery that reconstructed the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and repaired the medial collateral ligament (MCL). The club estimated Blandino's recovery time to be 6-8 months.

Video: PIT@CIN: Blandino exits game with an injury

Playing second base, Blandino was injured on Friday vs. the Pirates when baserunner Max Moroff rolled into his knee while trying to break up a double play.

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