GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It was an unseasonably frigid Monday morning in the desert, but fourth starter Homer Bailey definitely brought his "A" game to the Reds' "B" game against the Brewers. Temperatures were in the 40s at 9:30 a.m. MST and not optimal for any game, as Bailey worked two scoreless innings with three strikeouts. He retired all six batters he faced and threw 23 pitches. "Homer looked outstanding," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He had strike one. He was controlling that outside part of the plate low and away. He had good tempo and good rhythm. He threw the ball great. He had good velocity and a couple of good breaking balls. He should be pleased with that."
Because of the cold, Bailey's velocity wasn't all that crisp. His fastball was in the 91-92 mph range. He got one of his strikeouts with his split-fingered fastball. "I felt alright," Bailey said. "I kept the ball down. My secondary pitches were pretty good." Bailey, 23, developed the split-fingered pitch late last season with the assistance of teammate Justin Lehr. Could having it from the start of the season make Bailey tougher to reckon with? "There's no telling. It may get worse," Bailey quipped. "It's coming along pretty good. It's like my other pitches, even though it's fairly new. It became pretty comfortable for me to learn. Now I just use it like any other pitch. It's nothing new." Bailey was originally slated to come out of the bullpen during Sunday's game vs. Milwaukee that was rained out. Then the Reds had him doing likewise for Monday against the Royals until Bailey asked to start the "B" game. He was hoping to keep his general pregame-start routine together. "I said I'll even come extra early to pitch in the morning game," Bailey said. "Just so you can get used to what times you want to be stretched, what time you need to be out there, what time you start throwing, what time to get off the mound and prepare into a game. I think it's just as important as anything. That's what I wanted to work on as opposed to being in the bullpen, throwing and getting out there in a game." "It shows he's maturing and really serious about being good in this game," Baker said. "He's a man. He's growing up." The Reds are hoping Bailey is taking steps forward both on the mound and in maturity. The former first-round Draft pick in 2004 struggled in his first few promotions to the Majors, but everything started clicking down the stretch in 2009. Overall, Bailey was 8-5 with a 4.53 ERA in 20 big league starts, including 6-1 with a 1.70 ERA over his final nine starts. "There are a lot of things we expect, just because they've been around a long time, have a lot of money, or whatever the reason is," Baker said. "We tend to want our young to grow up superfast instead of just growing up. "What I've found is it depends on if their arm remains strong when their head catches up to their arm. If you can do that, then you've got action. A lot of times what happens is you end up hurting something and then you figure it out. Or you're home and you figure it out playing in a beer league somewhere. I tell our guys, 'Don't be a give-me-another-chance guy.'" After a few false starts over the years, Bailey is showing no signs during this camp of being that guy.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.