FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Andrew Bailey made his Red Sox Grapefruit League debut Monday afternoon against the Marlins, although not in his expected ninth-inning slot as it will be in the regular season.
Bailey pitched one inning, the sixth. Facing six batters, he gave up a run on three hits with a wild pitch. Bailey allowed hits to the first three batters he faced a double to Omar Infante, and singles to Austin Kearns and Aaron Rowand to score Infante, before getting out of the jam. He got Chris Coghlan to pop out to Mike Aviles at shortstop. Terry Tiffee reached on a fielders choice, with Kearns getting thrown out trying to score. And Matt Dominquez grounded out to Kevin Youkilis at third.
First guy, hit a double and immediately your mind switches to that closers mentality where you never want to blow a game, Bailey said. It doesnt matter for me if its in spring training. So for me it was kind of cool to have your first outing be that kind of tight of a ballgame and for me kind of act like it was regular season. And obviously I have some things to work on. Thats why we start with spring training. But it was nice to get in that situation. But for me you never want to give up runs no matter what inning you pitch.
I felt comfortable out there. Kind of normal, for me just the first outing in spring. And obviously had the mindset of going in and working on things. Soon as a guy gets on base that switches gears. So it was fun.
Bailey had been delayed this spring by a lat strain suffered during the vertical leap portion of his psychical early in camp. He came through his first outing fine.
Nothing hurt. No this is just all for show, he said, joking about a large ice pack on his right shoulder. No, I feel great. Like is said its great to be back out there. Obviously with the little lat thing, kind of frustrating. But its good that it happened when it did, in early part of spring. And hopefully I dont have to vertical jump next year.
Manager Bobby Valentine was satisfied with Baileys outing.
Andrew was able to go out there and start it and get off the mound, Valentine said. He feels healthy right now and thats a big step forward. Thats good. Now, Id rather have him strike everyone out and miss all the bats. But bats happened to find the ball a couple of times today.
Bailey, who would like to pitch seven or eight innings in spring training, believes he has enough time to get ready for Opening Day.
Yeah, yeah, for sure, he said. Theres plenty of opportunities to get in games. I shouldnt miss too much. I think some of the guys are even scheduled extra off day here or there. And for me Ill just keep on going through and get ready for Opening Day.
We have him scheduled for seven or so innings, Valentine said. If we have to back to back depending on how he feels. Hell have enough.
At some point he is likely to pitch more than one inning.
Hes slated for a two-inning outing once but well see, Valentine said. In a perfect world I always like a guy to throw one more inning than hes going to be asked to do during the season, other than 10 for starters. Just so they have it in their mind, at least go back out that other inning, just to know that you can do it.
Bailey knows he is taking the place of Jonathan Papelbon, the most prolific closer in Red Sox history. But he is not pressured by that.
I know what he did here obviously, the all-time save leader here, Bailey said. For me its a new opportunity in my career. So for me the pressure is what you put on yourself and in my eyes its an opportunity in my career to further my career and pitch for the greatest franchise in baseball. So Im just excited about that.