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.

McDaniels: Garoppolo still a long way from a 'finished product'

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McDaniels: Garoppolo still a long way from a 'finished product'

FOXBORO -- As the Patriots move forward with their process of preparing Jimmy Garoppolo for Week 1 of the regular season, there's plenty of refining the third-year quarterback needs to make to his game. 

But that's what training camp is for, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels explained on Wednesday.

"We're a long way from where we want to be in terms of the finished product in terms with he and a lot of guys on our team," McDaniels said. "There's nobody that's as good as we can make them. We're excited to have the opportunity to work with all of those guys and try to improve everything we can."

Garoppolo seen plenty of work as Tom Brady's backup over the last two years, both within the Patriots offense and as the "look team" quarterback, impersonating the likes of Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Now, as Bill Belichick explained on Wednesday, Garoppolo's development as the team's starter is a priority.

How far Garoppolo has to go before he's ready remains to be seen. But McDaniels seemed to indicate that if Garoppolo can continue on the track he's been on in terms of his desire to improve, he'll be where he needs to be when he needs to be there. 

"He's worked extremely hard," McDaniels said. "He's gotten a lot of opportunities in his first two-plus years here, in practice and in spring football. This will be his third opportunity at training camp. He's got a great work ethic. He's got a great approach. He tries to get better and improve every day, and he's made progress." 

He's made so much progress that Belichick didn't even venture to get into the details of the road the Eastern Illinois product has traveled since arriving as a second-round pick in 2014.  

"Experience, everything," Belichick said. "It’s everything. All of the things that go into playing football: preparation, execution, knowing the opponent. We could sit here and talk about it for a day. Everything."

Garoppolo's teammates have noticed his progress, too. While both safety Devin McCourty and special teams ace Matthew Slater were careful not to compare Garoppolo to Brady, they praised the work they've seen behind the scenes from the backup-turned-starter. 

"The cool thing seeing Jimmy, I was a veteran when he was coming in," McCourty said. "You see a rookie, he's just been developing. Each time he steps on the field, he gets better and better so I think it's probably very exciting for him knowing the work he's put in. 

"And I think for other guys on the team, you know he's a hard worker so I don't think it's worries or anything like that. He's a confident kid, and he's been out here practicing hard. We see him a lot all throughout the year when he's on the look squad and being different quarterbacks . . . It's tough for me to really break him down and compare him. I think Jimmy's just a guy who's come in here and learned everything he could under Tom and just keeps getting better."

"I know that he's been working hard, just like the rest of us have," Slater said. "He's prepared himself for a moment to play since he got in this league. He's worked hard for it. We believe in his talent and his abilities, and we know he's going to go out and give us everything he has."