Bailey step closer to joining Reds

Updated: July 21, 2010, 7:28 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

CINCINNATI -- Homer Bailey took an important step in his comeback from an inflamed shoulder, throwing about 50 pitches to Cincinnati teammates during a simulated game without a problem.

Aaron Harang wasn't nearly so good.

The Reds got contrasting updates on two of their disabled starting pitchers Wednesday. Bailey appears to be recovered from the inflamed pitching shoulder that has disabled him since May 24, a far longer recovery than initially expected.

Unless he develops an unexpected problem, Bailey will begin a rehabilitation assignment on Monday at Class A Dayton. He'll need a few starts in the minors to get back into shape.

"It was pretty good," Bailey said. "My curve and fastball were good, but the slider was a little off. That's the way it usually is. It's usually the last to come."

Manager Dusty Baker watched from behind the batting cage while Bailey (1-2, 5.51 ERA) threw all of his pitches without pain.

"He looked pretty good," Baker said. "His command was above average, but still not where you want it to be. His arm speed was good, his curveball was good."

Harang, their Opening Day starter, has been disabled since July 6 by spasms in his lower back. He's gotten treatments at a chiropractor all week, and felt better after his session on Wednesday.

"I got a definite relief today," Harang said.

Harang threw last week but didn't feel comfortable because of the back, prompting the Reds to keep him off the mound. He attended a team function at the Reds Hall of Fame on Sunday night, and the back felt worse afterward.

"Standing around at the Hall of Fame the other night -- my back didn't like that," he said. "I was a little stiff the other day."

Harang is limited to working out on a treadmill and other conditioning equipment. He won't be allowed to throw until he's gone a couple of days with no stiffness or pain. Once the back is fine, he's likely to go on a medical rehabilitation assignment to the minors as well.

The Reds have stayed in the NL Central race with St. Louis by getting superb fill-in performances. Rookies Matt Maloney and Travis Wood kept the rotation together after Bailey and Harang got hurt. Right-hander Edinson Volquez returned from reconstructive elbow surgery after the All-Star break, giving Cincinnati plenty of starters.

In other moves, the Reds made a change in their bullpen, calling up right-hander Carlos Fisher from Triple-A Louisville and sending down seldom-used right-hander Micah Owings.

Wednesday's move came one day after Owings had trouble throwing strikes during an 8-7 win over the Washington Nationals. Pitching for the first time since July 4, Owings gave up four runs while retiring only two batters in relief. Owings, the long reliever, has pitched only 33 1-3 innings this season.

Fisher is in his second stint with Cincinnati. He made 11 appearances from April 22 to May 32, putting up a 10.80 ERA.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.