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Reds drop Homer Bailey from rotation

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

By JOE KAY

AP Sports Writer

CINCINNATI (AP) The Reds dropped Homer Bailey from the rotation Friday, leaving their highest-paid pitcher with no role for the rest of a disappointing season.

Bailey is 1-14 with a 6.09 ERA and has lost nine straight decisions. The Reds are 1-19 in his starts this season, the fourth in a row that he's been injured.

Interim manager Jim Riggleman said Friday that rookie Tyler Mahle will take Bailey's place in the rotation for the rest of the season. Bailey will continue throwing in the bullpen and stay ready in case he's needed for a start.

The Reds considered moving Bailey to the bullpen, but the right-hander doesn't think he's capable of pitching in relief.

"It's not so much he's not willing to do it, but he just feels very strongly that the preparation he feels like he has to do means he will not be able to help the ballclub out of the bullpen," Riggleman said. "That kind of transition is something he'd have to prepare for in the off-season."

The Reds gave Bailey a six-year, $105 million contract in 2014 that strained their budget. They embarked upon a massive rebuilding movement but were unable to trade Bailey because of three significant arm injuries that required surgery.

The 32-year-old pitcher has been limited to 46 starts in the last four seasons, when he's gone 9-27 with a 6.25 ERA. He has one year left on his contract for $23 million. There's an option for 2020 with a $5 million buyout, so the Reds are committed to paying him $28 million next year even though he currently has no role.

He's the second-highest-paid player on a team with a $100.4 million payroll. Joey Votto makes $25 million each year through 2023.

Bailey plans to work on his fastball, which was his dominant pitch when he threw a pair of no-hitters in 2012 and 2013 that led to his big contract. Asked if it will be difficult to go through September without getting into a game, Bailey said, "Idle minds can be a dangerous thing. I've had a lot of practice over the last few years."

Bailey had surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right forearm in 2014. He had Tommy John surgery the following year. Bailey had a bone spur removed from the elbow in 2017. He missed roughly two months this season with a sore right knee.

Bailey had hoped this would be his turnaround season when he showed up at spring training in good health for the first time in years. Instead, he struggled to control his fastball, and he quickly slid into yet another disappointing season.

"It was frustrating in April," Bailey said. "It's like normal now."

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AP freelance writer Mark Schmetzer contributed to this report.

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Updated September 7, 2018

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