A new and improved Homer Bailey?
Homer Bailey’s second game, and first start, this spring was definitely in the right direction towards landing the rotation’s fifth spot. Against the Pirates on Monday, Bailey threw three scoreless innings with one hit, one walk and four strikeouts. He threw 45 pitches and seemed to be solid at changing speeds and located pretty well despite a brisk wind in Bradenton. The Reds dropped the game, 2-1.
That’s four scoreless innings to this point for Bailey with six Ks.
That Bailey is pitching well isn’t a total surprise, really, since he’s always had the stuff despite not putting it together in the Majors. But it’s been his demeanor and attitude that seems to be something not seen the previous three camps and multiple big league call-ups. The 22-year-old, who had developed a reputation for being prickly and curt with reporters and coaches, has shown a different side. Here are some exerpts from the pitcher’s session with reporters after his start:
“Everybody is relaxed. It just seems like the vibe in camp that I get. There are a lot of young guys in camp. Guys in their first year coming to a Major League camp don’t seem like they’re stepping on eggshells with veterans around. But know the respect they have to give to guys that have been there before them. You see a lot of mature guys in the clubhouse despite as a whole being pretty young.”
Asked about a fresh start?
“I have a lot more motivation, not that I didn’t have motivation last year. I have a little self motivation that I’m trying to work with. So far, it’s been going well.”
On how things are different this year?
“When you go through a year like that last year, you can’t help but have a few things knocked inside your head. I guess I was able to look back and really think about it a lot more and realize some of the mistakes I made. I understand it more, I think. One more year of seeing the game and watching games and this past off-season a lot of things sunk in.”
Asked about his more upbeat personality?
“I guess it has to do a lot with the off-season I had. I had a really good off-season. Maybe before I didn’t prepare as much as I think I should have, looking back on it. This year, I know the work I put in and I think it’s going to be beneficial. This year, I have a little more confidence.”
Manager Dusty Baker said he didn’t tell Bailey anything special before the off-season other than to come to camp ready.
“It’s a maturity thing,” Baker said. “You can tell him whatever you want but they have to do it. And he’s doing it.”
Clearly the next test will be to see how Bailey handles adversity. There will be a more detailed story about today on the web site later. Please take a look.