GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Homer Bailey, Mat Latos and Jonathan Broxton all made injury rehab pitching appearances against Los Angeles Dodgers minor leaguers on Monday at the Reds training complex while their teammates were down the road playing Cleveland in a Cactus League game.
It’s not where any of the three wanted to be. It’s not where the Reds wanted them to be but it is where they were and, at least for the day, the news was positive.
Bailey threw 76 pitches in his five innings of work for Triple-A Louisville. Latos tossed 43 pitches in three innings for Double-A Pensacola in his second start of spring training and Broxton followed him with a 13-pitch inning in his third appearance of the spring. All three hit the mid-90s on the radar gun.
A groin strain forced Bailey to be skipped over one start and have this start pushed back a couple of days but it appears he is on track to make his first start of the regular season. The way the schedule works out, with him pitching every fifth day, that would fall on April 3 against St. Louis in the finale of the opening three-game series of the year at Great American Ball Park.
"I don’t know how much you can really expect the first time out after taking some time off," said Bailey. "I did feel kind of a little mechanically off just for not being on the mound and stuff. But physically I felt fine."
Bailey said he didn’t have any hesitation with his movement, although he held back from going to cover bags. The last thing he needed to do was aggravate the injury covering first base. He said he did experience some cramping in the fourth and fifth innings. He did get hit harder in those innings but the overall prognosis is good.
Latos and Broxton are both expected to start the season on the disabled list but could be rejoining the Reds sooner than later. Latos is on the road back from elbow surgery last October and knee surgery in February. Broxton had surgery on his right forearm flexor muscle last August.
Latos rolled his left ankle in his first start of the spring last week. He said he had some issues finding a good landing spot on the mound Monday but he came through this outing feeling good. He closed out his appearance with an offspeed pitch for a swinging strike three.
"The elbow feels great. The knee, I don’t feel anything," said Latos. "The velocity is there for me really not trying to let it go. It’s spring training so, who cares? The velocity was there. The curve ball was there, the slider was there so I can’t complain with anything. I feel strong, I feel ready to go."
No matter how good Latos feels, he has a couple of more outings to go before he gets the call back to the majors. Manager Bryan Price has said he wants his starters capable of being ready to throw 90-100 pitches a start before they make their season debut. For a reliever like Broxton, he’s going to have to show the ability to throw on back-to-back days.
MESORACO PROGRESSING: Catcher Devin Mesoraco took batting practice on Monday and came out the other side feeling good. Mesoraco suffered an oblique strain last Wednesday taking swings in the batting cages. If he can play in a game or two the rest of the week he should be fine to play on Opening Day.
"I definitely want to be ready but right now I’m just focusing on getting better and improve every day," said Mesoraco.
LONE LEFTY: The way the bullpen is shaping up Manny Parra is going to be the only left-handed reliever the Reds have on the Opening Day roster. Closer Aroldis Chapman and setup man Sean Marshall will start the season on the DL so that leaves Parra.
"I think that’s part of being in the bullpen, that as things go and different things happen you’ve got to be able to adjust and the bullpen picks up each other in situations," said Parra. "I haven’t thought about (being the only lefty). The only thing I’ve thought about is that it’s always nice to have a Marshall there because he’s so good."
Parra had a rough start to last season but returned from a DL stint with an effective slider that cemented his role in the bullpen the final four months of the season. Parra had a 1.78 ERA over his final 45 appearances last season. He stranded 25 of the 30 runners he inherited in a setup role.
So far this spring, Parra has made eight appearances, allowing just one earned run on four hits and one walk against 30 batters faced. He has struck out 11 in his eight innings of work.
"It’s been a great spring," said Parra. "I have good rapport with the catchers. I’ve talked a lot with Corky (Miller) about what makes me successful, and Mes(oraco) too. I come in here with an idea of where to go. You’re not trying to search for anything. It’s not like ‘this is what you need to do.’ Let’s go ahead and execute those pitches and let’s get better at executing them more consistently and that’s what we’re doing."