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BOSTON (CBS) – Before the Red Sox acquired Joel Hanrahan from the Pittsburgh Pirates over the winter, general manager Ben Cherington made a call to Andrew Bailey to let him know the deal was going down.
Injuries never gave Bailey the chance to be Boston’s closer in 2012, and once again that role was being taken away from him before he had a chance to make a claim.
But Bailey made it clear, if he got that chance he would make the most of it.
He’s done just that in filling in for the injured Hanrahan the last 10 days. Bailey has five saves in six opportunities, and for the season has been filthy with 20 strikeouts in 11 innings. He struck out the side in Wednesday’s 6-5 win over the Oakland Athletics – his seventh multi-K outing of the young season.
But with Hanrahan expected to begin a brief rehab stint on Friday, the closer’s role is once again in question. While Bailey has done his best to make his case, he’ll leave that decision up to those in charge.
“It’s not my decision to make. Obviously talking with them before the trade, I told them I just want an opportunity and a chance to win that job,” he said following Wednesday’s win. “They know that my goal was to stay healthy and prove that I can pitch. I think I’ve proven that. We’ll see what happens when (Hanrahan) comes back.”
“We’re all on the same page in terms of where we want to take this team. Whatever roles are, roles are. We’ll see what happens. We have 25 guys here on the same page, and we want to win a World Series. I really don’t think it matters what inning you pitch,” he added.
“The last few appearances he’s come in in save situations he’s done an outstanding job of making a pitch in some key spots,” manager John Farrell said of Bailey. “[On Wednesday] he made some 3-2 breaking balls for strikeouts. The energy, aggressiveness he pitches with, he’s able to channel that in the right direction and he’s done an outstanding job in that closers role for us.”
“Everybody wants to be the closer and everybody wants to pitch the ninth inning and right now that’s my job,” continued Bailey. “It’s not my decision to make but I was brought here to do a job last year. Injury got in the way and I wasn’t able to do that. My goal is just staying out in the field this year and they know what I can do. It’s just nice to be back out there and getting wins. We’re off to a great start and the team is playing well. That’s really all that matters.”
Hanrahan wasn’t very convincing early on for Boston, though he did get saves in his first three opportunities with his new team. His only blown save and loss came after he allowed five earned runs in 0.2 innings of work against the Orioles, and he suffered the hamstring injury that has sidelined him for the last week just a few days later.
But an injury shouldn’t mean a player loses their job, and that will likely be the case when Hanrahan returns. But should he continue struggle, the Red Sox will know they have a more than viable option send out for the ninth inning in Bailey.