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Baseball America's Daily Dish
Complete Daily Dish Archive

Compiled by Kevin Goldstein, Chris Kline and Matt Meyers
June 21, 2005

SOUTH BEND, Ind.--There's not much that comes between Homer Bailey and his Stetson cowboy hat, but he'd gladly take it off for a Reds cap someday.

Last year's Baseball America High School Player of the Year and first-round pick, Bailey is pitching in his first full season at low Class A Dayton and is opening eyes not only with his mid-90s heat but also his wardrobe and Texas charm.

Bailey sat down before one of his recent starts--decked out in blue jeans, a t-shirt, cowboy boots and a camouflage baseball hat--and discussed with us his life beyond baseball.

On his skills as a hunter: "It's scary how much I know about rifles. I've killed a lot of stuff. I'm going hunting with my Dad in Mexico for whitetail deer this offseason and I'm really looking forward to it. Lately I've been looking on the Internet a lot for big elk hunts. I want to go to Canada, like Saskatchewan or Alberta, or maybe even Alaska.

On his mounted collection back home in La Grange, Texas: "We have deer, ducks, a marlin, a bobcat . . . weve got quite a bit. I didn't bring any with to Dayton. I did buy a shotgun when we were in Wisconsin, but I still haven't shot it yet."

On why he likes to hunt deer: "When I go deer hunting, especially after bucks, I could care less how big it is. All I want are those horns. We kill so many of them that we have to give them to friends. I just tell them, chances are good I'm going to kill one, so if you want the meat you can have at it."

On what he did with his $2.3 million signing bonus: "The first thing I bought was a truck, a 2004 Ford F-250 King Ranch, and I ended up wrecking it this offseason. I was coming home from Austin and I was going down a road that I've gone down hundreds and hundreds of times. It just so happened it was raining and less than five miles from home it hydroplaned and I flipped it three times. I was so (upset). I climbed right out and was fine and all. I called my parents because they lived right down the road and asked if they could come get me. All they wanted to know if I was OK and I said, 'Forget about me, look at all my crap.' My iPod was ruined, I had a gun that was all messed up and I had a thousand-dolloar cowboy hat that was demolished."

On his expensive taste in cowboy hats: "It's a Stetson El Presidente 100X. I have one back in Dayton. It's a top of the line hat that I like to wear. I don't wear it much now because it's warmer. When I go out in Austin, I'm usually wearing it."

On his opinion of baseball: "I don't even consider baseball a hobby. I don't ever watch games on TV. Baseball is just something I do because Im good at it. Most of my friends rarely, if ever, talk about baseball."

--JEFFREY ZAMPANTI

DISH PIECES

Angels righthander Jered Weaver, the 2004 first-round selection who signed just before this year's draft, made his pro debut last night. He pitched in game action for the first time in more than a year last night, throwing three innings in high Class A Rancho Cucamonga's 3-1 loss to Lake Elsinore. BA's 2004 College Player of the Year allowed one run on three hits, walking two and striking out four. He threw 52 pitches, and was clocked between 88-92 mph. "It's kind of tough to come out pretty sharp after 400 days off, but I thought it went pretty well, Weaver told the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

After two shoulder surgeries, Dodgers lefthander Greg Miller is still on the road to recovery at the club's extended spring training facility in Vero Beach, Fla. The Dodgers had hoped to get Miller to an affiliate in June, but the supplemental first-round pick in 2002 had another setback and his timetable was pushed back by about a month.

"(We) got real excited three weeks ago when he threw in an extended game," farm director Terry Collins said. "He threw 94 (mph) and all of a sudden his shoulder started to bother him again and we shut him down. He's back in the bullpen, and we're hoping that perhaps by the end of July he's going to pitch in a game some place."

Miller hasn't pitched since 2003, when he established himself as the top lefthander in the minors. He went 11-4, 2.49 with 111 strikeouts at high Class A Vero Beach, then racked up 40 more strikeouts in just 27 innings at Double-A Jacksonville before the surgeries shut him down. "Dr. (Frank) Jobe explained to me that this is going to happen," Collins said of Miller's setbacks during rehab. "We're talking about a guy who hasn't pitched in two years, but we feel that Greg is still going to be fine."

From one Miller to another, Indians top prospect Adam Miller will make his 2005 debut tonight after being held back in extended with an elbow strain. Miller's velocity was back in the 95 mph range during his last two simulated games in Winter Haven, Fla., and he is expected to be on a 50-pitch count tonight at short-season Mahoning Valley.

More good news for the Indians, as lefthander Scott Lewis will make his first start tomorrow, also at Mahoning Valley. Lewis, a third-round pick last year out of Ohio State, had Tommy John surgery near the end of his sophomore season. While he made a rapid recovery initially and came back to pitch for the Buckeyes 11 months after the surgery, he lacked his usual 90-92 mph velocity and the snap on his plus curveball. Lewis had inflammation in his shoulder last year at Mahoning Valley, and then he slipped on ice in the offseason and jammed his shoulder. All indications are that his pitches are back and he is fully healthy now. "This is a guy who could give us a shot in the arm," farm director John Farrell said. "All his pitches are there--he could roll out of bed and throw that (curveball)."

With Eric Gagne on the disabled list and possibly lost for the season, keep an eye on Double-A Jacksonville righthander Jonathan Broxton. Broxton, who was a starter all season for the Suns, has moved to the bullpen and could figure into the club's plans at the big league level soon. A second-round pick in 2002, the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder is 4-3, 3.36 with 77 strikeouts in 75 innings. The jump to the bullpen provided a spark in Broxton's velocity. Usually clocked in the 93-95 mph range as a starter, he's been in the 96-98 range in two appearances out of the pen. Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta isn't showing his hand, however. "All of our minor league starting pitchers will be spending a little bit of time in the bullpen this year in order to give their arms a rest and give them experience in the role," DePodesta told the Los Angeles Times.

Best pitching matchup of the night? Look no further than Double-A Erie, as New Hampshire righthander Vince Perkins (3-3, 3.63) faces off against Sea Wolves righthander Justin Verlander. Verlander, who is making his Double-A debut, went 9-2, 1.67 with 104 strikeouts in 86 innings at high Class A Lakeland this year.

Another interesting pitching matchup will take place at high Class A Frederick. White Sox first-round pick Lance Broadway will make his pro debut for Winston-Salem against Orioles lefthander Adam Loewen. Broadway, the 15th overall pick in this year's draft out of Texas Christian, signed for $1.57 million. The righthander was tied for the NCAA Division I lead in wins (15) and ranked among the leaders in ERA (1.94), strikeouts (125) and strikeouts per nine innings (12.1). Loewen faces the Warthogs for the second time in a week, and last time out the results were not pretty. He was chased after just 2 2/3 innings, and allowed 10 runs on eight hits, struck out four and walked three. On the season, Loewen is 2-4, 3.75 in 70 innings.

In case you were wondering, Felix Hernandez is human. The Mariners righthander will miss his next start with mild bursitis in his throwing shoulder. On the season, the 19-year-old is 8-4, 2.32 for Triple-A Tacoma and is working on a scoreless streak of 15 1/3 innings.

Hernandez isn't the only pitching prospect with arm problems, as Yankees righthander Philip Hughes went on the DL at low Class A Charleston with tendinitis. The move is said to be precautionary after the RiverDogs clinched the first half crown for the Southern Division of the South Atlantic league. On the season, the 2004 first-rounder is 7-1, 1.97 with 72 strikeouts and 16 walks in 69 innings.

Nationals first-rounder Ryan Zimmerman will join low Class A Savannah today. The third baseman out of Virginia was the fourth overall pick this year and signed quickly for $2.975 million. Zimmerman is expected to spend up to two weeks with Savannah before heading to Double-A Harrisburg.

He's back, and he's no longer a third baseman. After sitting out three weeks with a stress fracture in his right hand, Royals 2004 first-round pick Billy Bulter returned to lineup for high Class A High Desert last night, going 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs in the Mavericks' 8-5 win over Modesto. It also marked Butler's first game in left field, a move that is expected to be permanent because of his defensive struggles at third (18 errors in 41 games) and the Royals' selection of Alex Gordon with the second overall pick in this year's draft. Butler's bat should play anywhere, as the 19-year-old is batting .361/.446/.654 in 208 at-bats with 15 home runs and 50 RBIs.

Oaklands California League affiliate at Stockton is packed with some of its top hitting prospects, and they've been putting on a show of late, averaging 7.61 runs a game this month, including 57 in their last five games. Outfielder Danny Putnam has been the biggest run producer in June, batting .324-5-23 in 17 games, while first baseman Daric Barton has hit .347-2-18. In true Athletics fashion, the club has drawn an average of 6.9 walks a game, good for a team on-base percentage of .404 this month.

Contributing: Alan Matthews.

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