SAN DIEGO -- Cincinnati Reds right-hander Homer Bailey has waited a long time for Sunday's rubber match of a three-game series against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.
"Rehab is not easy. I wouldn't wish it on anyone," Bailey said recently.
Sunday will be Bailey's third start since August 2014. During the past 23 months, he has had two rounds of surgery on his right elbow, including Tommy John reconstruction surgery on May 8, 2015. He earlier had surgery on Sept. 15, 2014, to repair a torn flexor tendon.
"We are certainly happy to see Homer returning," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He's a quality, veteran presence who is going to add stability to a young rotation."
Bailey opened the year on the 60-day disabled list. After two rehab appearances in April, he was again shut down and didn't resume pitching until June 27 when he made the first of six straight rehab starts for Triple-A Louisville (1-2, 5.75 ERA).
He was activated from the 60-day disabled list Friday.
Bailey will be matched against Paul Clemens on Sunday. Clemens was claimed off waivers by the Padres from the Miami Marlins on June 28.
He has since made five appearances for the Padres, including one spot start at St. Louis in the second game of a doubleheader on July 20. He allowed three runs, four hits and two walks with five strikeouts in five innings.
Clemens was moved into the rotation Friday when the Padres traded starting pitchers Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea to the Marlins.
"I like his stuff," Padres manager Andy Green said recently of Clemens, who spent most of this season with the Marlins' Triple-A New Orleans affiliate.
"I like his curve. I think it plays at the major league level. He just needs to find some consistency and gain some confidence. Sometimes, all a player or a pitcher needs is a change of scenery. That might be the case with Paul."
Clemens is a 29-year-old right-hander who was originally a seventh-round pick of the Atlanta Braves in the 2008 draft. He is 6 feet 3 and 215 pounds.
"This is a great opportunity for Paul and other members of the rotation," Green said.
Meanwhile, the Padres were flying outfielder Jabari Blash in from Triple-A El Paso (the Chihuahuas were actually in Las Vegas) to take Kemp's place on a depleted roster. Even before Kemp was traded to Atlanta during Saturday night's game, the Padres were down two position players.
Because of the inexperienced rotation, the Padres are carrying an eight-man bullpen to cover the extra innings created by shorter outing from the starters. And with the loss of Kemp and the unavailability of outfielder Alex Dickerson (right hip contusion) for a few days, the Padres were down to two healthy reserves.
They were forced to start first baseman Wil Myers in right and infielder Alexi Amarista in left. Blash is scheduled to start in right field on Sunday afternoon against Bailey.
"Naturally, I'm excited," Bailey said. "It's not like another start every fifth day. This is the start of another stage of my career."