With Bailey needing surgery, Red Sox bullpen unstable

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With Bailey needing surgery, Red Sox bullpen unstable

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The news on Andrew Bailey was as bad as the Red Sox had feared.

Bailey, obtained in an off-season deal with the Oakland A's to serve as the replacement for departed free agent Jonathan Papelbon, will require surgery Wednesday to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb.

Bailey spent Tuesday in Cleveland being examined by noted hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham, who has performed thumb surgeries on both Kevin Youkilis and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in recent years.

The surgery will take place Wednesday at the Cleveland Clinic. A baseball source familiar with the situation estimated that Bailey's recovery time would take anywhere from three to four months.

"I don't think it will be before the All-Star break, is what the trainer told me," said manager Bobby Valentine.

Bailey's loss, just two days before the 2012 season opener, throws the Red Sox bullpen into chaos, with roles changing.

"The guys that you've seen in the bullpen are going to hold down the fort," said Bobby Valentine after the Sox held off the Washington Nationals, 8-7, "and do the job to help us win a lot of games. I think you saw (Alfredo) Aceves there (in the eighth inning) -- think you'll see him at the end of games. (Mark) Melancon will be at the end of games,
for sure.

Valentine also hinted that he had spoken to the relievers in question about his plan, but wouldn't reveal anything further.

"I did everything I had to do, I think, yeah," he said. "They're all settled, I'm settled. In Detroit, we'll find out what it was, hopefully on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday."

"I haven't heard anything yet," insisted Melancon, who was 20-for-25 in save opportunities for Houston last season. "It's unfortunate that Bailey's out. It's very unfortunate, but we've got a good bullpen and we'll be alright.

"I think we have some guys who can do that. But like in anything, experience helps. But no matter what happens, we'll be alright."

Even before they got the official word that surgery would be necessary, GM Ben Cherington labeled Bailey's situation "an acute injury."

"I'm confident that we have pitchers who can get the final out of the game," said Valentine. "It's just the rest of the grouping that's a work in progress. I'd like to think of it that we'll have a plan where there will be a person that will be designated for that role with others who can do it when he's not available -- if it all falls in line perfectly."

Before the game, Valentine maintained that the Sox weren't entirely able to pinpoint the timing of the injury. The best guess the Red Sox have is that Bailey suffered the injury after a collision near first base on March 21 in Bradenton, FL., when the Sox played the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"That's the best we can figure," said Cherington. "The onset of the pain happened shortly after that and he's never had any soreness before that. And there was clearly a collision where he fell on the ground and hit it. So that's our best guess as to when it happened."

If Bailey is going to miss half the season or more, the Red Sox must find a trustworthy replacement to close out games.

"I think we've got a number of guys who have done it a little bit," said Cherington, "who we think are capable of doing it. Ultimately, that's up to Bobby (to determine) who he brings in for the ninth inning. But there's a number of guys out there who have had some saves, have pitched late in games.

"This is an opportunity for some guys to step up and maybe pitch in a different role than they would have before. I think when you lose one guy out of the bullpen, no matter who it is or what the role is, there's a little bit of a ripple effect on other guys."

When asked specifically about the possibility of moving Daniel Bard back to the bullpen -- either to close or set-up -- Cherington was emphatic.

"The decision was made (for him to start)," he said. "He's going to pitch the (fifth game) in Toronto. We're committed to him as a starter right now."

Echoed Valentine: "I think he's finally feeling good about being there (in the rotation) and I see no reason, at this time, to change strokes in mid-stream."

"It's tough," acknowledged Saltalamacchia, "because he's a big key to this team's success, going from this year and in the future as well. It's frustrating, but at the same time, if he's going to do it, this is the time to do it and get it done so we can have him for the last half of the season, rather than him playing through it and then being out for
the season.

"But at the same time, just talking to him, I know he doesn't want to (miss time); he wants to play. If there's a way of playing without having the surgery, I think he's going to try and find a way to do it. But he's got to do what's right for him and get ready to play the rest of the season. Because we're going to need him from that second half of
the season on."

"We lost our guy," concluded Melancon, "but we're going to figure it out. It's going to be good."

Blakely: Celtics made the right choice in not pursuing Cousins

Blakely: Celtics made the right choice in not pursuing Cousins

NEW ORLEANS -- There will be a significant faction of Celtics Nation who will see DeMarcus Cousins’ trade to New Orleans as a lost opportunity for the C's, who could have offered a much more enticing trade package than the one the Sacramento Kings accepted.
 
The Kings received nothing even remotely close to a king’s ransom for Cousins, acquiring him in exchange for rookie Buddy Hield, journeyman Langston Galloway and ex-Pelican Tyreke Evans (who has never been the same since his Rookie of the Year season in 2010), along with a protected first-round pick and a future second-round selection.

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While the knee-jerk reaction is to focus on why Boston decided to not pursue a trade for Cousins, more important is what the non-decision means for the moment and going forward.
 
Think about what the Celtics have done in the last three-plus seasons.
 
They went from being a lottery team to one that has the second-best record in the East. They're holding the potential No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft; at worst, the pick will be in the top four or five. They have three of the most team-friendly contracts (Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder) in the NBA. They have promising prospects overseas as well as in the D-League. And they're led by a coach who has improved his coaching acumen -- and the team’s win total -- every year he's been on the job.
 
And it's all enveloped by a culture with a high level of selflessness, which has created a locker-room environment that has been more about fighting for each other than fighting one another or others off the court.
 
Do you really think Cousins’ talent would have trumped the baggage he'd be bringing to the Celtics if they'd acquired him?
 
For him to have fit in with this team would have required him to make the kind of changes that, frankly, I just don’t see him being capable of making at this point.
 
On more than one occasion, “not fitting in” with the Celtics culture was given to me as the reason why a Cousins-to-Boston trade never gained any traction with the team’s brass. Or coaching staff, for that matter.
 
While there's no denying that he's arguably the best center in the NBA, Cousins is a high-risk, high-reward talent that makes sense to pursue if you're a franchise which has nothing to lose by adding him to the mix. Like, say, New Orleans.
 
The Pelicans are 11th in the Western Conference despite having Anthony Davis, who has been asked to carry the weight of a franchise that has yet to figure out the best combination of talent to surround him with and find success.
 
The addition of Cousins not only provides Davis some major help, but serves as a reminder of just how desperate the Pelicans are.
 
While there are mixed reports on whether the package of assets the Kings agreed to was the best they could have received for Cousins, there was no way they were going to get anything close to comparable talent in exchange for him.
 
And that was solely due to the risk that any team was willing to take on in order to acquire him.
 
At some point, the Celtics need to take advantage of an opportunity to go all-in for a superstar player. But this was not that time, or that player.