It had been on my mind. Homer Bailey has been visible in the Reds dugout at home games. He’d even had a prominent role in the dust-up with the Pirates. I’d heard the report from Jim Day earlier in the week that BaileyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s recovery from Tommy John surgery has been going well. No pain. Rehab on schedule. Expecting to throw off a mound before spring training. Encouraging news.
But I was really wondering about something else.
Was Homer Bailey going to become one of the leaders on the Reds?
With the departure of Matt Latos and Alfredo Simon in December, the recent trades of Mike Leake and Johnny Cueto left Bailey the sole remaining member of the 2014 starting rotation. With the 29-year-old Texan on the disabled list, the Reds are starting five rookie pitchers for the foreseeable future. Leadership on the pitching staff is sorely needed.
From a seniority standpoint, Homer Bailey becoming a team leader seems like a natural development. He can pass along the lessons he learned from his mentors like Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang.
But I hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seen any real evidence of Bailey playing that role. As far as I knew, the camera hadn’t caught him talking the young starters. I hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t read anything about a new role for Bailey in any press reports. After watching his aggressive role in the on-field skirmish, it crossed my mind again on Sunday.
Cue C. Trent Rosecrans with a long interview with BaileyÃ‚Â on MondayÃ‚Â (Read the entire article.Ã‚Â ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s full of quotes from the young Reds pitchers, Bryan Price about BaileyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s welcome mentorship role and more from Bailey.)
Homer Bailey is still in the Reds clubhouse, and he’s making sure he’s heard by the young pitchers, including the five in the rotation and the injured Jon Moscot, who suffered a shoulder injury earlier this season.
Ã‚Â For example:
He (Bailey) mentioned that, during Friday’s game, he led a group discussion with DeSclafani, Moscot and injured reliever Manny Parra about mechanics and strategy that stretched over two innings.
Ã‚Â Quoting Bailey:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If you like playing baseball, you like talking baseball. It’s the other stuff, they go about their business really well. They’re not out there acting like goofballs Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Moscot needs a few more PFPs, but we’ll get to that.”
Bailey doesn’t view himself as the smartest or most talented guy in the room. Instead, he’s the one with the most experience based on things going right and wrong.
“I’m not winning any Cy Young Awards, so I have a ways to go myself. But a lot of the stuff they’re going to experience, I just hope I can nip things in the bud before it happens to them,” Bailey said. “See things and say, ‘Hey man, you might want to try X, Y, Z because it could lead to something else. Why? Because I already did it. I know.’ I was the guy who touched the hot stove, now I can tell them not to.”
Ã‚Â Homer compared his role to that of a big brother, not a nanny. A big brother with two no-hitters, mind you.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ more like bigger brother who has screwed up enough to teach them. I can tell you what doesn’t work,” Bailey said. “I think I can impart a lot of knowledge, but wisdom would be stretching it.”
Not everyone who becomes a leader seeks out that role. Often, it’s inherited from others leaving. As with many sports teams, that’s become the situation with the Reds pitching staff.
And it sounds like Homer Bailey could make a good leader. He’s realistic about his own accomplishments and shortcomings. He’s a no-nonsense role model when it comes to preparing. He’s also accomplished enough – whether you measure that in strikeouts, innings pitched, big contract, postseason performance or those two no-hitters – to be a credible communicator in the eyes of the rookies.