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03/16/07 4:26 PM ET

Notes: Bailey won't start season in Cincy

Reds pitching prospect one of seven sent out to Minors

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Homer Bailey knew his big-league audition this spring would eventually have an end date.

It came on Friday morning.

Bailey, the organization's top pitching prospect, was among seven players sent out by the Reds during the latest wave of roster cuts. He was reassigned to Minor League camp.

"I had a pretty good feeling it was going to come, even before I showed up [to camp]," said Bailey, just after moving his belongings to a locker in the Minor League clubhouse.

"It's a situation where he needs to get his innings and start getting ready for the season," Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky said.

Bailey's numbers this spring weren't too pretty. In three games, including one start, he was 0-1 with a 19.64 ERA (eight earned runs over 3 2/3 innings). Although he had some smoother innings mixed in, such as his one scoreless inning of relief on Wednesday, Bailey sometimes lacked command of his mid-to-high-90s fastball.

What few rough edges Bailey has left are expected to be smoothed out with more seasoning in the Minors. Bailey came to camp with a distant shot at landing the vacant fifth spot in the rotation, but he was expected to begin the season at Triple-A Louisville.

"It's been a tremendous experience for him, getting a Major League start in an exhibition game to begin with," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "I think he's had a couple of rough outings where he didn't command the baseball as well he would have liked to. It's all a learning experience. He's the type of guy, with the character and makeup he has, we'll believe he'll grow from it.

"We're definitely not down on him. That's the last thing in the world we are."

A 20-year-old right-hander and the club's first-round selection in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft (seventh overall), Bailey felt he got a lot out of being in his second big-league camp.

"No doubt," Bailey said. "Anytime when you're up there, you get to learn and talk to the older guys and you take any advice you can."

Other cuts: Another prominent prospect, first baseman Joey Votto, was also among the cuts and optioned to Louisville. Catchers Dan Conway and Ryan Hanigan and pitcher Michael Gosling were reassigned to Minor League camp.

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Two veteran relievers signed to Minor League deals, Brian Meadows and Kerry Ligtenberg, were released. Meadows had a 3.38 ERA in five appearances (two earned runs in 5 1/3 innings), while Ligtenberg had a 1.69 ERA in five games (one earned run in 5 1/3 innings). Neither would have accepted a Triple-A assignment.

"By doing it with both of those guys, at least it gives them two weeks and maybe someone can [sign them]," Krivsky said. "We just felt like there were other people ahead of them. Let's do it earlier than later and be fair to them. They've both been around and we respect their status."

Cincinnati now has 43 active players remaining in camp.

Big day for Guardado: Friday morning marked a first and important step in reliever Eddie Guardado's rehabilitation from ligament replacement surgery on his left elbow.

Guardado threw his first pitches off a mound in the bullpen since his September operation.

"It was good to be out there," said Guardado, who had been limited to catch and long tossing since camp opened. "It was awesome. I was pumped up for today, boy."

Guardado, who had been chomping at the bit to accelerate his rehab program, threw 15 pitches -- all fastballs -- during the session.

"All I heard was, 'Slow down!' It's tough when you're out there," Guardado said. "It is very hard, but I know I have to be smart. When they tell me to slow down, it's just for my own good. I understand that. But everything is going good. I can't complain. I felt good. The ball was coming out of my hand pretty good."

A date for Guardado's next bullpen session wasn't known, but he will begin the season on the disabled list. The 36-year-old closer has targeted a late June return to game action for the Reds. Recovery from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery normally takes 9-12 months.

Rain reshuffling: With Friday's game against the Blue Jays wiped out by rain, scheduled starter Eric Milton will now work in a Minor League game on Saturday. Fifth starter candidate Matt Belisle was also due to pitch on Friday and will see action on the Minor League side, too.

Coming up: After missing a couple of starts, Kyle Lohse is set to return from a strained right hamstring when he pitches for the Reds against the Red Sox on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Hitters Adam Dunn, Josh Hamilton and Brandon Phillips are also on the travel roster. Jonathan Papelbon is Boston's scheduled starter.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.