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3/19/2014 10:04 P.M. ET

Citing caution, Reds delay Bailey's next start

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Reds pitcher Homer Bailey's next scheduled start on Friday has now been pushed back because of a strained right groin.

Bailey, who had his previous start on Saturday scratched because of what was considered a mild strain, had his scheduled Wednesday bullpen session moved back but he did play catch on flat ground.

"We decided to push that [start] back and maybe look towards the end of the weekend, maybe Sunday," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "More than anything, we just don't want to put any stresses on his groin and maybe have a setback. There is a feeling of optimism he could pitch in that game, but there is also the risk-reward. We just don't feel at this time that it's worth risking. We could push it back a couple of days and he can be ready for the regular season without having to start on the [disabled list]."

One thing the injury has done is make it more likely that Johnny Cueto will start on Opening Day for the third straight year. Price had said earlier in the week that the decision was between Cueto and Bailey.

Price wasn't ready to make a final decision, however.

"This really isn't a cat and mouse game," Price said. "The bottom line is, we're coming off a year last year where [Cueto] pitched in 11 games. Before I name him or Homer the Opening Day starter, I just wanted to get further into Spring Training. It's going to be one of those two guys as long as we can avoid any other setbacks."

Cueto had three DL stints last season because of a strained right lat muscle. This spring, Mike Leake missed a start with an abdominal strain and Mat Latos has been out of games most of camp because he had left knee surgery on Feb. 14. Bailey, who signed a six-year, $105 million contract last month, has a 4.00 ERA in three starts with four earned runs and four hits allowed over nine innings, including two home runs.

"I think Johnny is probably the closest to 100 percent maybe of almost the entire group other than [Alfredo] Simon and [Tony] Cingrani," Price said. "At this point in time, it looks most likely to be Johnny, but I'm not going to announce anything until we get through the rotation another time."

Votto and Phillips given extended break

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Coming off Tuesday's scheduled off-day for the entire team, Reds core players Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips were nowhere to be found at the team complex on Wednesday. Both were given an extra day off by manager Bryan Price.

The move resembled something that former manager Dusty Baker often did for veteran players to give them back-to-back days.

"The guys that have been doing this for a while. We're going to start to pick up the innings and consecutive days, etc.," Price said. "So I was able to find a day off for them."

Other veteran position players will likely be excused from the complex for a future day, as well.

"Today it's those two," Price said of Votto and Phillips.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.