CINCINNATI — Right-hander Homer Bailey will start the season in the Cincinnati Reds' minor-league system.
The Reds got down to the 25-man roster limit Sunday by optioning Bailey to Triple-A Louisville, giving him a chance to start regularly and continue to work on his revamped delivery. Bailey had challenged right-hander Micah Owings for the fifth spot in the Reds' rotation.
The Reds had talked about keeping Bailey with the big-league team in the long reliever role that ultimately went to Nick Masset, who was out of options.
"As a long reliever, when your starters are doing well, you might not pitch for two weeks," Reds Manager Dusty Baker told MLB.com. "That certainly wasn't going to help his growth. We really considered him a lot. If not, it wouldn't have come down to this last-hour decision. Homer did everything we asked. He probably improved as a man and as a ballplayer and pitcher as much as anybody from one year to the next."
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Owings will start the Reds third game of the season against the Mets. Right-hander Bronson Arroyo, who has carpal tunnel syndrome, isn't scheduled to get his first start until next Sunday, giving him a chance to rest his pitching hand.
The Reds also optioned infielder Adam Rosales, utility player Wilkin Castillo and left-hander Bill Bray to Louisville, and reassigned outfielder Jonny Gomes to their minor-league camp.
Gomes signed a minor-league deal during the spring and doesn't have to stay with the club since he didn't make the big-league roster. He said he hasn't decided whether to go to Triple-A Louisville.
"I had a good spring, came in and played left and right (field)," Gomes said. "They asked me to go to first base, and I went there with open arms. It just didn't work out. They can't keep everyone."
The Reds went with 30-year-old journeyman Darnell McDonald instead of Gomes. McDonald will get the opening day start in center field in place of Willy Taveras, who is out with the flu.
Other surprises on the final day of cuts included the team's decision to keep left-hander Daniel Ray Herrera and send the oft-injured Bray to Louisville, and picking Paul Janish over Rosales for the final reserve infield spot.
With starting shortstop Alex Gonzalez coming off a major injury, Baker said he kept Janish for his defense.
"With Gonzalez's situation we need the defense," he told Cincinnati.com. "(Janish is) our next true shortstop. He worked hard to improve his strength and hitting."