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Reds test Bailey in bullpen during rehab stint

MLB.com @m_sheldon

CHICAGO -- The Reds were looking to move veteran starting pitcher Homer Bailey to the bullpen last month before a right knee injury put him on the disabled list. Bailey has been starting games on his rehab assignment, but the club will finally get to see if he can be a reliever.

Bailey logged two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and two walks with one strikeout on 42 pitches, working out of the bullpen on Sunday afternoon for Triple-A Louisville against Toledo in relief of starting pitcher Keury Mella. Why now?

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CHICAGO -- The Reds were looking to move veteran starting pitcher Homer Bailey to the bullpen last month before a right knee injury put him on the disabled list. Bailey has been starting games on his rehab assignment, but the club will finally get to see if he can be a reliever.

Bailey logged two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and two walks with one strikeout on 42 pitches, working out of the bullpen on Sunday afternoon for Triple-A Louisville against Toledo in relief of starting pitcher Keury Mella. Why now?

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"Right now, he's out on a rehab and getting healthy," Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams said. "We just talked to him about at least exploring the option of seeing how he pitches out of the 'pen, and how he responds to it. It's obviously a much different routine than he's been through his entire career. We also have the extended injury history that makes it complicated. It's not a transition that can be taken for granted. We're going to see how he responds to it."

In four rehab starts for Louisville, Bailey went 1-2 with a 6.35 ERA over 22 2/3 innings. His most recent start had him pitching 6 2/3 innings with one earned run, seven hits, no walks and eight strikeouts.

For the Reds this season, Bailey is 1-7 with a 6.68 ERA. Since he signed a six-year, $105 million contract ahead of the 2014 season, he has endured three elbow surgeries and numerous struggles on the mound.

Bailey, 32, is making $21 million this season, and he is owed an additional $23 million for '19. He has a $25 million club option for '20 that has a $5 million buyout.

When the announcement was made in late May that Bailey would be bullpen-bound, it was not met with enthusiasm by the right-hander. How did he react to the discussion about relief work with Louisville?

"He's just a little concerned about the adjustment, what will happen and how his body will respond. He's going to go out there and we're going to find out," Williams said. "We're very encouraged by his last couple of starts. But it's important now while we have the opportunity in a Minor League setting to find out how he responds to it."

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