GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Cincinnati Reds pitcher Homer Bailey doesn't expect to be ready for the start of the season as he recovers from surgery in September to repair a tear in the flexor tendon by his right elbow.
That leaves the Reds to fill three openings in the rotation.
Bailey said Wednesday that he hasn't had any setbacks since arriving for spring training last week. The right-hander has been limited to playing catch. He is expected to throw off a mound for the first time soon.
His timetable has him returning sometime in April, so the Reds need to have a fill-in ready to start the season. They also need to replace starters Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon, who were traded in the offseason.
Bailey said his recovery has gone smoothly, with only some minor discomfort. Throwing off a mound will provide a good test for the forearm and elbow. He intends to be cautious.
"I'm feeling good," Bailey said. "Do I think I'll be ready Opening Day or the first series? Probably not. But it won't be long after that.
"I'd rather go through this one time than overdo something and start from Square 1."
The 28-year-old Texan has thrown a pair of no-hitters, beating the Pirates in Pittsburgh 1-0 on Sept. 28, 2012, and the Giants at Great American Ball Park 3-0 on July 2, 2013. He got a six-year, $105 million contract during spring training last year.
Bailey went 9-5 with a 3.71 ERA in 23 starts before he started feeling pain in the forearm by the elbow. He went on the disabled list in August. When the pain didn't go away after therapy, Bailey decided to have the surgery.
Manager Bryan Price plans to have Bailey throw off a mound then throw to some Reds hitters before using him in a spring training game. Cincinnati opens its spring season March 3.
"He is well on his way," Price said recently. "He will be ready to go fairly early in the season."
Right-hander Anthony DeSclafani -- obtained from Miami in the Latos trade -- left-hander Tony Cingrani and right-hander Raisel Iglesias are front-runners in the competition for the open spots in the rotation. The Reds also signed veterans Jason Marquis and Paul Maholm to minor league deals and brought them to camp to compete.