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With Bailey And Hanrahan Hurting, Who Closes Games For Red Sox?

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Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Red Sox had just pulled off a dramatic 6-5 win over the Minnesota Twins in 11 innings, and calendars in the clubhouse were being changed from Monday to Tuesday.

Red Sox manager John Farrell addressed the heavy-eyed Boston media to talk about his team’s 21st win of the season, albeit a late-night one, but his work was far from over.

After the clubhouse and media room were clear, Farrell and his staff had to figure out who would be Boston’s third closer of the season.

Monday was a busy day for the back-end of the Boston bullpen. Andrew Bailey was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right biceps strain, and just a few hours later his replacement, Joel Hanrahan, left the mound with forearm tightness following his second blown save of the season. He will undergo an MRI on Tuesday, but if Hanrahan misses a few days or lands on the DL for the second time this season, the Red Sox will have a glaring need in the ninth inning.

But Farrell said early Tuesday the Boston bullpen, which was seen as one of the team’s assets heading into the 2013 season, has a few arms that can step up to the challenge.

“We have a couple of guys out there that we’re confident they’ll be able to close out games,” Farrell said after the win. “That’s what we have to go figure out.”

Koji Uehara is one option, though the Red Sox would rather not pitch the righty on back-to-back nights. Uehara does have experience as a closer, notching saves in 13 of 15 opportunities with the Baltimore Orioles in 2010. He was also a closer for the Yomuiri Giants in Japan in 2007, recording 32 saves.

However, as well as he’s pitched this season, Uehara has surrendered three homers in 13.2 innings pitched.

Another option for Farrell and company includes Junichi Tazawa, who has been one of Boston’s best arms out of the pen. This season, Tazawa has walked just three batters and allowing just four runs while striking out 18 over 14.1 innings of work. He has only one career save though, which came last season.

And, just to get everyone riled up, let’s throw Alfredo Aceves’ name into the mix. If Hanrahan lands on the DL, Boston will need to call someone up, and Aceves pitched well in his one start so far, tossing six shutout innings while striking out six against the Durham Bulls on May 2. Aceves served as Boston’s closer to start the 2012 season, and although he finished the year 2-10 with eight blown saves, he notched 25 saves before being placed back in the starting rotation.

None of those three are perfect closers, but right now the Red Sox don’t have many options. Now that their two proven closers are both injured, the options are few for Boston, but if their strong bullpen arms can hold down the fort until Bailey or Hanrahan recovers, the team should be able to continue their successful start of 2013.

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