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With Minors looming, Bailey impresses

With Minors looming, Bailey impresses

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Although his chances of making the Reds rotation have been greatly diminished, Homer Bailey says he isn't dwelling on the outcome of the battle to land a spot.

"The only way I have control over it is out there. So I worry about how I do out there," Bailey said. "Anything else, whatever decisions are made, they're not my decisions. I can't control them. So why worry about them?"

Despite taking the loss on Thursday against the Twins, Bailey had one of his better outings of the spring. The right-hander allowed one earned run and three hits over four innings with two walks and no strikeouts in the Reds' 4-0 defeat.

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"I threw fairly well tonight, so I was happy about that," Bailey said.

Through five starts, totaling 14 2/3 innings, Bailey is 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA. He has given up 11 earned runs, 22 hits and 10 walks with nine strikeouts. Reds manager Dusty Baker said that Bailey is improving.

"He's better. His mechanics are better," Baker said. "He's still had some problems with command and consistency with staying out of that one big inning, which plagues a lot of young pitchers."

The big inning was avoided on Thursday by the 21-year-old Bailey, who did a nice job of damage control against Minnesota.

Bailey allowed a one-out walk and a two-out walk in the first inning, but kept Minnesota scoreless in the frame and then retired the side in order in the second. In the third inning, after a leadoff bloop single by Adam Everett and a double down the left-field line by Carlos Gomez, Bailey got out of it with just one run scoring on Michael Cuddyer's sacrifice fly.

Delmon Young hit a leadoff single in the fourth but was erased by an inning-ending double play.

"He showed tremendous determination," Baker said. "He threw the ball really good. It seemed like when he got into trouble, he reached back and got some more. He had good mound presence and damage control, especially after he got into trouble."

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Expected to have an inside track on a rotation spot coming into camp, Bailey has been overshadowed by fellow pitching prospects Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez, both of whom are expected to make the team. Volquez followed Bailey with a better outing -- two scoreless innings with two hits and two strikeouts to lower his Grapefruit League ERA to 3.00.

One spot remains up for grabs between Bailey, Josh Fogg and Matt Belisle. Fogg, who has a 3.38 ERA over his five games, appears to have the best chance based on spring performances and his veteran experience.

Seemingly resigned to his fate, Bailey said he wouldn't be disappointed if he didn't make the Reds roster.

"No, not really," he said. "Obviously, I'd be wanting to go to [Triple-A] Louisville and do whatever it takes to get back. But really, to see how well Johnny and Volquez have been throwing, they've definitely shown what they can do and have shown they can pitch at this level. I'm very happy for what they have done as well. It's good to know that you have other players like that around you."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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