Bailey gives up run in Red Sox debut

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Bailey gives up run in Red Sox debut

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.

What will it be like when Goodell shows up in Foxboro?

What will it be like when Goodell shows up in Foxboro?

Tom E. Curran in the Cumberland Farms lounge joins Sports Tonight to discuss what he thinks it will be like when Roger Goodell attends the Patriots home opener on September 7.

Burkhead's former running backs coach: 'He's going to flourish' with Patriots

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Burkhead's former running backs coach: 'He's going to flourish' with Patriots

PHOENIX -- Rex Burkhead was buried on a deep running back depth chart in Cincinnati, but in New England he may finally have a chance to show his offensive value. That's how Burkhead's former running backs coach and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson feels, at least.

Before he was hired as Browns head coach last season, Jackson worked closely with Burkhead for three years and saw the 5-foot-10, 210-pounder's versatile skill set on a daily basis. With the Patriots, under Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels, Jackson believes Burkhead has a chance to see that skill set maximized. 

"He's very talented," Jackson said during the league meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. "He's a guy that was playing behind some very talented players [with the Bengals], and so he's going to get his opportunity now, and he's going to flourish. He's a really good player. A really good player.

"He's very versatile because he's a good runner, a good pass-catcher. He's a good blocker. He's very bright. He's been a sensational special teams player there so he brings a lot of different elements to that football team."

The Patriots signed Burkhead to a one-year deal earlier this offseason that could pay him more than $3 million -- a sign that they're hoping he'll factor heavily into the offense in 2017. With LeGarrette Blount still on the free-agent market, Burkhead is currently the biggest back on the Patriots roster alongside Dion Lewis, James White and DJ Foster, and he could be in line for a significant amount of work in short-yardage situations and on first and second down.

Burkhead served primarily as a special-teamer during his four-year career in Cincinnati, but in Week 17 of last season, because of injuries to his teammates at the position, he was the Bengals lead back and ran 27 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns. We took a closer look at the qualities he put on display that day right here

It was a performance that gave Burkhead's profile a where-did-that-come-from type of boost as he headed toward unrestricted free agency, but his head coach at the time wasn't surprised.

"Not at all. That's why we drafted him," said Bengals sideline boss Marvin Lewis, who went on to explain why Burkhead was an inconsistent offensive contributor leading up to that game.

"A lot of times when Rex got opportunities to play, he wasn't quite 100 percent and so that kind of limited him some. Even in preseason opportunities and so forth like that where you'd go into the game, and it'd be Rex's -- in my mind, Rex's ballgame -- to carry the ball in the first or second quarter and he wasn't able to suit up that day.

"That's one of the things he's battled over his career is just being 100 percent completely healthy. [But] he's just a hard-working guy who always wants to be out there."

And in New England, it looks like he'll have the chance to be out there more.