The Real McCoy

Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy shares his thoughts on the Cincinnati Reds

Bailey could return to rotation after rehab starts

CINCINNATI — When the Cincinnati Reds leave town next week, pitcher Homer Bailey will leave town, too. But he won’t be going with the Reds to Kansas City and Pittsburgh.

Bailey most likely will be with Louisville or Pensacola or Dayton on a rehab assignment.

“In the next four or five days, Homer will be in a (minor league) game,” said manager Jim Riggleman. “Where we don’t know yet, but that is the tentative plan.”

And then what?

“We will keep him stretched out as a starter,” said Riggleman. “After he throws down there a couple of times, we’ll see how our guys are doing here. We might need him as a starter here. We’re going to see where it takes us in terms of performances we get here and how he is doing.”

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That means guys like Sal Romano and Matt Harvey need to step it up the next two times through the rotation and it means, of course, they need to see Bailey step it up.

WITH A SCHEDULING ODDITY, after Sunday’s game in GABP against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Reds will have three off days spaced around five games. It goes like this: Day off, Kansas City, Kansas City, day off, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, day off.

“That will enable us to give all of our starting pitchers an extra day off and somewhere along the way somebody is going to get two extra days,” said Riggleman.

That’s a nice luxury for the pitchers, but Riggleman isn’t thrilled with it.

“Too much for me,” he said, “You always like to have an off day, but this little stretch is a little more than what might be necessary. June is a 30-day month and we have five days off. That’s a lot. It gets you a little out of your routine.”

Riggleman, though, is comfortable with the overall schedule and the major league life.

“For me, the major league schedule is pretty comfortable,” he said. “We are extremely fortunate with travel — first class flights, first class hotel accommodations, great clubhouse accommodatios. It is extremely comfortable.”

Riggleman is a baseball lifer and has spent many yeares bouncing around the minor leagues in buses and staying in no-tell motels.

“The minor leagues is what needs to be looked at,” he said. “Those guys sometimes play 24 or 25 days in a row,” he said. “Really, over their 144-game schedule in Triple-A there are a total of eight off days and three are for the All-Star break. There are really five off days. I wish they would accommodate them more, wish the Players Association would somehow help them.”

SPEAKING OF BASEBALL lifers, Red Schoendienst was the utlmate. He spent 75 years of his 95-year life in a baseball uniform. Schoendienst, an All-Star infielder, a long-time coach and a manager, died this week.

“Manager Whitey Herzog put me on his staff with the Cardinals in 1989 and Red was there as a coach,” said Riggleman. “There was no term at the time called bench coach, but that’s really what Red was. He was in uniform in the dugout and on the field during batting practice.”

“Just a great man and Whitey loved him and relied on him,” said Riggleman. “He was generous with his team and the most pleasant guy. His closest friend was (Hall of Famer) Stan Musial and you’d never know those guys ever played baseball. They never talked about their achievements. They were just great humble people. Just a wonderful man.”

Schoendienst shocked the baseball world and physicians coast-to-coast when he came back from tuberculosis to resume his playing career.

“He was such a strong man,” said Riggleman. “Whitey used to talk about playing golf with Red and how far he could hit a golf ball with the power in his hands and arms. And what a player, a great career. And he managed in a World Series. He had an amazing career.”

HAMILTON NATIVE JIM TRACY was managing the Los Angeles Dodgers when his pitcher, Jose Lima, gave up the longest home run in Great American Ball Park. It was hit by Adam Dunn and it left the ball park, landed on Mehring Way, the street that runs behind the right field stands, then bounced onto a piece of driftwood near the bank of the Ohio River. The distance was 535 feet.

Tracy visited Reds manager Jim Riggleman Wednesday and later recalled the home run. “When Lima came back to the dugout after Dunn’s home run, I said to him, ‘Tell me what that pitch was you threw to him so I don’t ever throw it in batting practice.’”

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