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Bailey ‘Feeling Good,’ Ready To Close In Boston

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Andrew Bailey (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Andrew Bailey (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) –The Red Sox have their closer, and Andrew Bailey is happy to be on board in Boston.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited about being a Red Sox,” the newly acquired Bailey said on a conference call Wednesday night.

Bailey was solid for Oakland in his first three major-league seasons, notching 75 saves in 84 chances.

“Andrew’s a proven top-quality closer in the American League,” general manager Ben Cherington said. “He’s done it for three years and has had a lot of success. He’s converted a very high percentage of his opportunities. He’s got the stuff and we really like his makeup for Boston.”

Boston got Bailey for outfielder Josh Reddick and a pair of minor league prospects. While they needed a closer after Jonathan Papelbon left town, and recently acquired Mark Melancon was viewed more as a set-up man in the AL East, there is cause for concern. Bailey missed nearly all of April and May last season with an elbow issue. He also missed time during the 2010 season, but insists he is healthy and ready to take over as Boston’s 9th inning guy.

“I’m feeling good, man, to be honest with you. This is my first healthy offseason I’ve had since I’ve been in the big leagues,” he said. “In 2009, I had a little procedure done on my knee that I had to rehab in the middle of December. Last year was the bone chips and bone spurs being taken out and that kind of lingered into spring training and into the season.”

“I’ve been able to get after it from day one, and so far, knock on wood, healthy and strong and looking forward to spring training,” a confident Bailey said.

Bailey said he won’t be affected by the switch to the AL East or a baseball-crazy town like Boston.

“I sit in the low 90s, rely on control and getting ahead of guys. The motto I live by is, ‘Strike one is the best pitch in baseball.’ As long as you stick with that, you’ll be fine,” he said.

“Obviously, pitching — and closing, for that matter — is bigger in Boston. Obviously, the market’s a lot bigger, but I think I’ll be fine with that,” Bailey continued. “The last three years have been great, being able to close against the teams I’m going to be closing against in the same league. It’s not like I’m going to different territory or a new league that I need to know all the hitters. It’s the same guys I’ve been facing for the last three years, just with a different uniform on. The only things I can work on are one, obviously, staying healthy, and two, sticking to my guns and being who I am. Just because I’m wearing a different uniform doesn’t mean I’m going to change on or off the field. That’s kind of what my thoughts are now.”

Bailey has three saves in four Fenway appearances, but the one he remembers most is the one that got away.

“The one that sticks out the most was my first save opportunity this year was against the Red Sox,” he said. “I actually blew that save. From what I remember, there’s nothing like the atmosphere of running into the game from the bullpen at Fenway Park.”

So it appears Boston bullpen is nearly set with a few more additions likely. The Red Sox can now feel comfortable moving Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves to the starting rotation, but they could also end up back in the pen. Cherington said Wednesday Boston will keep looking to add a few more arms to join Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz.

“We’ll continue to work and we’re actively considering and looking at starting pitching options, also,” said Cherington. “But we haven’t found one, yet, where we feel like the acquisition cost is the right one. That doesn’t mean it won’t come to us, it just hasn’t come, yet.”

At least for now, Boston has someone for the end of games.

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