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.

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

PHOENIX - Major League Baseball intends to push forward with the process that could lead to possible rule changes involving the strike zone, installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitcher's mound. While baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope the ongoing process would lead to an agreement, he said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Union head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union - unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.

"Unfortunately it now appears that there really won't be any meaningful change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA," Manfred said Tuesday during a news conference. "I've tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture."

Yet, he also added: "I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change."

Manfred said while he prefers an agreement, "I'm also not willing to walk away." He said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreement.

Clark met with Cactus League teams last week, five at a time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before departing Monday for Florida to visit each Grapefruit League club - and proposed rules changes were a topic.

"I have great respect for the labor relations process, and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done with the MLBPA," Manfred said. "I have to admit, however, that I am disappointed that we could not even get the MLBPA to agree to modest rule changes like limits on trips to the mound that have little effect on the competitive character of the game."

Clark saw talks differently.

"Unless your definition of `cooperation' is blanket approval, I don't agree that we've failed to cooperate with the commissioner's office on these issues," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this offseason we've been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened. I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don't continue, notwithstanding today's comments about implementation. As I've said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open."

Clark added "my understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2-minute limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of game warning/fine adjustments."

Manfred said he didn't want to share specifics of his priorities for alterations.

"There's a variety of changes that can be undertaken," Manfred said. "I'm committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in private."

MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level - at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play - they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons.

Players also have been against limiting mound meetings. The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the union's agreement- such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a review.

"Most of this stuff that they were talking about I don't think it would have been a major adjustment for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule "beneficial in developmental leagues."

Manfred also said Tuesday that a renovated Wrigley Field would be a great choice to host an All-Star Game and Las Vegas could be a "viable market for us."

"I don't think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city," Manfred said.

Bulpett: Ainge 'really protective' of ability to go to free agency this summer

Bulpett: Ainge 'really protective' of ability to go to free agency this summer

Steve Bulpett joins Mike Felger to weigh in on the NBA trade deadline and the lack of moves made by Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics thus far.