Bailey confident in role as closer in 2013

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Bailey confident in role as closer in 2013

BOSTON After throwing just 15 13 innings, and missing the first 116 games of the season because of injury, Andrew Bailey is happy to put the 2012 season behind him.

It was very frustrating, Bailey said. My performance last year, Ill be the first to say wasn't who I was or wasn't anything that I was proud of. This year I'm going to go out and do my job to make sure I hammer down those games.

Bailey appeared in just 19 games, posting a record of 1-1, with a 7.04 ERA, six saves, and three blown saves. In a strange play during spring training, he collided with another player while attempting to cover first base. The result was a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb and undergoing surgery on April 4. This was after injuring a lat muscle early in spring training during the vertical leap portion of his physical. Bailey did not appear in a game until Aug. 14.

It wasnt just the long layoff that affected his performance, though.

No, unfortunately Ive had that happen before, where I had to sit out for a little bit and come back, he said. Ive done it in the past. Last year may have been a bit longer but theres no reason I cant go out and do my job. I dont forsee any issues like that. Looking forward from day one to the end of the World Series to be pitching for this organization."

Bailey is confident in his role going into 2013 as the Sox closer.

I think I have to, he said. Right now I would think I'm the only guy in that role. I feel like they traded for me for a reason. Last year was very frustrating on a lot of counts. Even when I was healthy, I didn't do my job to my full expectations or the organization's expectations. So I'm taking that into my off-season workouts, and knowing that Ive got to hammer down games for this organization and this team and we've got to get to the playoffs.

"That's where my mindset is, and anything else happens, I'm just looking forward to being out there and throwing a lot of innings this year.

Bailey has made some changes to his off-season program because of the injury. His goal is to be strong going into spring training and stay healthy throughout the season. He will begin doing some throwing this week, and will throw off a mound in early January. Hell plan to be in Fort Myers by the beginning of February.

Nothing too crazy, but throwing a little bit earlier just to make sure I get ready for camp, he said. You really cant predict any crazy run-ins with players or anything and freak thumb injuries but for me thats always been an issue is health. And this year I'm out to prove that I can stay healthy for a full season. I need to for myself and for the organization. They traded for me for a reason, and there's no doubt in my mind I can do what they want me to."

He is pleased with the moves the Sox have made so far this offseason, including the hiring of manager John Farrell and pitching coach Juan Nieves.

"I think it's great, he said. I think the organization isheaded in the direction the front office wants it to. With the respect and the history with Farrell I think is great for this team and great for the organization. I was just talking with some of the guys this offseason. They're excited about it. I think the relationships are already kind of built in that regard. And the newer guys, myself included, that's a good thing going into camp to have a lot of the veteran guys, and a lot of the core guys who have been here, already have those foundations set.

I talked to Nieves the other day and it was great. Were going to work together and put a little program down. He loved my thoughts of kind of starting just a little bit of throwing program next week just to kind of get things going,. And Im a guy that Id rather scale things back than to rush and feel like you have to catch up. So we have plans to talk again next week to talk over about the throwing program and that kind of stuff. I think its great. Im looking forward to working with him. Its going to be fun.

Bailey, who made 3.9 million in 2012, is arbitration eligible for the second time. He hasnt had any contract talks with the Sox yet, but is not concerned. But hes happy to see the Sox addressing issues that became problematic last season.

I think right now Im focused on getting ready for the season, he said. And they might be focused on things elsewhere. But I think as a player its awesome to know that the organization saw some issues last year and realized that this may not be our year but we can get a head start on next year to fulfill those things. And we know we have the ownership and the front office that wants to win in a city that demands it and deserves it. So I think everyones alike in thoughts and has the same feelings on that.

Bailey is curious to see what the Sox do with the financial flexibility they reclaimed in the August blockbuster deal with the Dodgers.

I think theyve publicly said that theyre going to be pretty cautious with how they do it, he said. But theres a lot of good free agents out there. Well see what happens. But I think no matter what as a player were very confident that the front office is going to put a winning team and a competitive team on the field . But that being said theres expectations especially in this city every single year and last year we didnt meet those. And we know that the front office is going to put a team on the field with those expectations and we have to fulfill that.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Magic

WATCH: Celtics vs. Magic

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Celtics-Magic preview: Orlando's poor offense gives C's chance to bounce back

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Celtics-Magic preview: Orlando's poor offense gives C's chance to bounce back

Talk about your basketball extremes.

After losing a 107-106 heartbreaker to Houston and their high-powered offense on Monday, the Boston Celtics will be in for a very different -- and less successful -- foe tonight in the Orlando Magic.

The Magic beat Washington 124-116 on Tuesday night despite John Wall’s 52-point effort, but have been one of the NBA’s most offensively challenged teams this season.

Orlando ranks near the bottom in scoring (29th, 94.6 points per game), field goal percentage (28th, .426) and Pace (24th, 96.71) this season.

But Frank Vogel’s crew has been a defensive force thus far in the East even if their record might suggest otherwise.

They rank among the league’s best in several defensive categories such as scoring defense (4th, 98.0 points per game allowed); opponent 3-point percentage (3rd, 33.0 percent), opponent 3-point attempts (4th, 23.6) in addition to allowing a league-low 8.0 made 3's per game.

That will be a stark contrast from the let-it-fly-all-night style Boston had to contend with against the high-scoring Rockets on Monday.

But this set of games is exactly why Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made of point of trying to put together a roster that was heavy on athleticism and versatility both in the frontcourt as well as on the perimeter.

Against Houston, Tyler Zeller recorded his first DNP-CD (Did not play -- coaches decision) of the season which made sense considering Houston basically plays void of a traditional center.

Orlando, that’s a different story.

Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic now coming off the bench form a physical triumvirate of big men that can cause lots of problems for a Celtics team that will look to attack the paint often.

When it comes to scoring in the restricted area, the Magic allow opponents to shoot 57.6 percent which ranks seventh in the league. They rank highly when it comes to defending mid-range shots (5-10th, 38.3 percent), corner 3's (6th, 34.5 percent) and above-the-break 3's (8th, 33.8 percent) as well.

And while they have had their issues offensively this season, their recent run of success has been in part aided by a much-improved offensive showing. In their last five games, they are shooting 48.5 percent from the field which ranks fifth in the NBA in that span. For the season, the Magic rank 28th while connecting on 42.6 percent of their shots.

Orlando’s improved shooting with a defense that’s stingy as ever, will make this a tough game for Boston to come away with a victory.

Just as the Magic seek to continue their successful ways, the Celtics come into this game with something to prove as well.

While the missed lay-ups by Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas in the final minute of Monday’s 107-106 loss certainly were factors in the game’s outcome, there were a series of miscommunications earlier in the quarter that fueled Houston’s late surge.

Following the game, Isaiah Thomas pointed out how he called out a play that Jonas Jerebko interpreted as another play the Celtics called.

The miscommunication led to a turnover and subsequent lay-up which in hindsight looms huge considering the margin of victory was just one point.

“The two play calls sound alike,” Thomas told reporters afterwards. “In the heat of battle, I have to do a better job of making sure everybody knows what play we’re running. He (Jerebko) handed the ball back to me when the play wasn’t to hand the ball back to me. That was one of the turnovers that was the key.

Thomas added, “It’s not his fault. As a group, as a point guard, I have to do a better job of letting my guys know what play we’re running. Those little things, especially on the road, those make you lose games. But that wasn’t the play that made us lose. I’m not putting this on Jonas at all.”

Indeed, this team’s success as well as their struggles are the collective efforts of all their core players, Thomas included.

And for them to get back on track, it won’t be one or two players that will make it happen.

It’ll be a team effort, the kind that will allow Boston to find success against different teams no matter how extremely different their styles of play may be.