WASHINGTON -- Homer Bailey's first Major League manager expressed surprise on Wednesday that the Reds right-hander has thrown baseball's last two no-hitters. But that was no knock on Bailey.
"I'm surprised when anybody throws a no-hitter," said Brewers bench coach Jerry Narron, who was in his final season as Reds skipper when Bailey arrived in 2007. "Two no-hitters? That's legit."
Less than 10 months removed from his no-hitter in Pittsburgh last September, Bailey blanked the Giants for nine no-hit innings in a 3-0 win Tuesday night in Cincinnati. He became the first pitcher since fellow Texan Nolan Ryan in 1974 and '75 to throw two no-hitters without another big league pitcher accomplishing the feat in between. And Bailey joined Mark Buehrle, Roy Halladay and Justin Verlander as the only active pitchers with multiple no-hitters.
A lot has changed in the six years since Bailey was called up to the Reds during a trip to Philadelphia in '07. He was a 21-year-old who showed up at the ballpark with a huge hunting knife in a case attached to his belt. Bailey was a former first-round pick with a reputation for being mostly interested in hunting and fishing.
Now he's a pitcher.
"Very few pitchers come up and really dominate right away," Narron said. "He was a 'stuff' guy, threw hard, but he had to learn how to pitch and get a feel for what he was doing. He's found it."
Developing a feel for the offspeed stuff made all the difference, Narron said, but Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said it's still about Bailey's fastball.
"It's live. He's got an explosive fastball, and he knows how to throw it right here," Roenicke said, holding his hand at the letters on his jersey. "That pitch is really difficult from a guy who has life on his fastball. I saw an article on our first trip [to Cincinnati] that talked about him getting back to throwing that high fastball again, and it works. It's a really difficult pitch to catch up to."
Peralta's status for next start unclear
WASHINGTON -- Will Brewers right-hander Wily Peralta make his next start on Sunday, as scheduled, after exiting Tuesday night's game with a strained left hamstring? It depended on who you asked.
Peralta said yes. Manager Ron Roenicke was not as certain.
"I think that's still iffy," Roenicke said, "but I'm really glad that he's feeling well."
The Brewers have had trouble with hamstrings lately. Closer Jim Henderson spent two weeks on the disabled list in late May and early June with a strained right hamstring, and starter Marco Estrada has been on the DL for nearly a month with a strained left hamstring that continues to give him trouble.
Given Peralta's importance to the Brewers' future, the club will not take any risks, Roenicke said.
"But Wily was just in the weight room getting in some work, so that tells me he's pretty good," Roenicke said. "He was out here playing catch and felt good. He felt a little bit of tightness, but other than that, pretty good.
"Talking with [head athletic trainer] Dan Wright … to put him back out there if they don't think he's 100 percent, I don't think we'll do that."
If he gets back to 100 percent, Peralta would pitch Sunday against the Mets at Miller Park. If the Brewers push him back, Tyler Thornburg would be the leading candidate to pitch in that spot.
Peralta predicted he will pitch.
"I think so," he said. "I just [did] a little stretching to loosen it up."
Estrada, meanwhile, remains in Arizona building strength. He is fine playing catch, Roenicke said, but every time Estrada tries throwing a bullpen session, he feels discomfort in his hamstring, particularly on offspeed pitches.
Until that subsides, the Brewers will not send him back out on a rehab assignment.
Roenicke was able to give a more positive update on right-hander Alfredo Figaro, who went on the DL in late June with a right ribcage strain. He is progressing "really well," Roenicke said, and could rejoin the Brewers before the All-Star break.
First signs of progress for injured Braun
WASHINGTON -- The Brewers were very encouraged on Wednesday when left fielder Ryan Braun's sore right hand felt well enough to swing a bat for the second straight day. Braun, on the disabled list with an inflamed nerve, is suddenly making some progress.
"I think that's a good sign, with him swinging the way he did and coming out today feeling [well]," manager Ron Roenicke said.
When Braun last swung a bat one week earlier, he felt sore the next day, increasing the likelihood that he would remain sidelined through the All-Star break.
Is there now a chance he will be back sooner?
"I think with the progress he made the last couple days, I think it's a possibility," Roenicke said. "I don't want to put any times on this. But it's a possibility."
Taller batting stance helping Halton
WASHINGTON -- Recent Brewers callup Sean Halton literally looks like a different hitter than the club saw in Spring Training. He's now swinging with a much more upright batting stance versus a wide stance and deep crouch in the spring.
"For me, standing a little taller makes me feel a little more offensive," he said. "Sometimes that crouch gets a little defensive. If you ask anyone in here, it's about that offensive mentality."
Halton, who went 4-for-14 in the first five games of his big league career entering Wednesday, when he made his first start at first base, likes to tinker with his stance and his hands. He said he made four or five significant adjustments in Spring Training alone.
In Wednesday's 4-1 win over the Nationals, Halton doubled, scored a run and struck out in four at-bats.
When he was struggling earlier this season with runners in scoring position, Halton talked with Triple-A hitting coach Bob Skube about an adjustment.
"I was looking at my numbers with runners in scoring position, and they weren't as good as with nobody on, nobody out," Halton said. "So I was trying to find a way to get on time with guys who were a little quicker to the plate. That kind of led me to the high hands, which led me to the tall stance."
Halton, who got a chance to impress Brewers coaches after he replaced injured Mat Gamel in big league camp, was batting .288 with nine home runs and 35 RBIs at Triple-A Nashville when the Brewers promoted him last week.
"It's all a game of adjustments," Halton said. "I'm just trying to find a way to compete and be a factor."