While most of their fans wallowed in winter misery, Cincinnati Reds pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training in Goodyear, AZ, yesterday. While great optimism surrounds the dawn of a new season, as always, it took just a few hours before we got our first dose of reality, courtesy of Homer Bailey (via Mark Sheldon of MLB.com):
"I haven’t gotten off the mound. Usually, l like to get off the mound a few times before I come. But I can catch back up real quick. It’s more getting used to the throwing everyday stuff."
In 2014, the Reds struggled to score runs, and they struggled to keep runs off the board in the middle innings of games, a combination that predictably left them floundering in the standings. It could be argued, and many did, that the real problem last season was that they just couldn’t stay healthy.
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General manager Walt Jocketty and manager Bryan Price are counting on that changing this season, and it must if the Reds are to have any chance to contend.
So, while Bailey’s “announcement” is not really news, and while it doesn’t doom the Reds to another poor season, it’s not the kind of thing that you want hear right out of the gate in Spring Training.
With the off-season departures of Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon, the Reds need Bailey to finally start living up to his vast potential over an entire MLB season. In 2014, he did not pitch after August 7 and went under then knife in early September, so it’s a bit surprising to hear that he is behind his normal Spring routine.
If the Reds can maintain a healthy roster all season long, they have a chance to contend.
But Bailey’s status to start Spring Training reminds us that there are no guarantees when it comes to him or Joey Votto or Brandon Phillips or any of the other Reds. For now, let’s just enjoy the Spring ride and the occasional glimpses of sunshine from our TV sets.