CINCINNATI -- Once thought to be stubborn, difficult to coach, and reluctant to make adjustments, Homer Bailey has matured before the Cincinnati Reds' eyes.
After a 3-0 gem against the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday, the right-hander now owns two career no-hitters and has established himself as a front line starter in the major leagues.
The 27-year-old has come a long way since being drafted seventh overall in 2004 out of La Grange (Texas) High School.
"He's grown up a lot," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "That's what you like to see with a young player. If you stick with them long enough, you can enjoy the fruits of their success."
On Tuesday night, Bailey was nearly perfect at Great American Ball Park in throwing the 16th no-hitter in franchise history. The only Giants baserunner was Gregor Blanco, who walked leading off the seventh. Bailey struck out nine and is the first pitcher since Nolan Ryan to be responsible for each of the major leagues' past two no-hitters.
It's been a trial-by-fire development process for Bailey, who also no-hit the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on Sept. 28, 2012. However, his regular catcher, Ryan Hanigan, who debuted with the Reds in 2007 along with Bailey, said the right-hander has become a student of his craft.
"Overall, he's learned how to really pitch and understand how to game-plan," Hanigan said. "Just the overall execution of pitching day in and day out. He's got four pitches, but (during Tuesday's no-hitter), we didn't throw any curves and only two or three splits. He can make those adjustments now."
Bailey, who went 13-10 with a 3.68 ERA last season, is an unremarkable 5-6 with a 3.57 ERA in 17 starts this year. However, his ERA in 15 of those starts is under 3.00. Bailey credits Hanigan for helping expedite his growth.
"I've known Ryan for a long time," Bailey said. "He does his homework. I know what he's going to want to do all the time."
Baker believes Bailey has the stuff to be a top-of-the-rotation starter for years to come.
"He's still got some time left," Baker said. "He comes from the state of Texas that has produced a lot of no-hitters."
Coincidentally, one of Bailey's other career highlights also was against San Francisco. In Game 3 of last year's National League Division Series, Bailey allowed just one earned run on one hit through seven innings. He walked one and fanned 10, but emerged without a decision in the Reds' 2-1, 10-inning loss. The Giants rallied for three straight victories to win the series en route to a World Series title.
Asked if Tuesday's no-hitter eased the pain of the playoff defeat, Bailey was emphatic.
"No, not at all," he said.