Bailey looks to finish strong, make his mark next season

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Bailey looks to finish strong, make his mark next season

BOSTON Since coming off the disabled list to make his season debut Aug. 14, Andrew Bailey has made seven appearances, spanning 5 13 innings, posting a 1.69 ERA, with a hold, a blown save, and a save.

It wasnt a save situation on Monday, but he pitched a scoreless ninth, with one walk, as the Red Sox beat the Royals, 5-1, in the homestand finale.

Bailey is glad to be back on the mound and healthy.

I feel really good, he said. Obviously, a lot of time off but this is the best Ive felt in quite some time and its just nice to get back into a regular schedule and not having any limitations, just feeling good all around.

He has appeared in four of the five games, including three straight, since Thursday. Pitching four innings in that span, he allowed one earned run, with a hit, a walk, and a strikeout. He likes having the regular work.

A lot of times, especially as relievers, when you dont see the mound for three or four days its reallyy important to get your mound work in during BP or whenever and make sure you stay fresh, he said. But when youre pitching consistently and feeling good, thats always a positive sign and you just get up there and do your thing. And sometimes when youre way from the game or dont get in for a little bit it takes some getting used to even though its just a couple days. But not matter what, Im ready to go and I feel good.

And now, with his return to full health and the sudden uncertain status of Alfredo Aceves, whose three-game suspension imposed by the team was completed on Monday, the closers role is available. Manager Bobby Valentine said before Mondays game he has not determined who his closer will be for the rest of the season. But, its the role for which the Sox acquired Bailey in the offseason. For his part, though, Bailey is willing to serve whatever role he can.

At this point in time, were trying to win ballgames and its been a frustrating year all around from an injury standpoint and the way we were performing, he said. But coming in here and winning these games is important. Im not really in it for individual stats. I think as a bullpen a lot of times the games are won and lost in the sixth, seventh innings. Sometimes thats more important than whos closing and getting the last three outs. So, for me, its whatever role we can have success with as a staff down there and show that we can do the job. Thats whats important.

But he would like to be able to show that he can be the pitcher the Sox acquired in a trade with the As in December. The one who was the American League Rookie of the Year in 2009 and a two-time All-Star, the one who had 75 saves over the last three seasons.

He knows his health has been a concern. And a fluke injury in spring training which necessitated the surgery on his right thumb that sidelined him for most of the season was a concern. Hes anxious to show what he can do.

Theres a reason they make trades and they wanted what they saw when I was healthy, he said. Theres no question in my mind I can do that and bring that to the table here in Boston. Its just a matter of going out there and doing it. So, for me, Im the same person out there no matter what my role is and Im going to give my all every single time. Hopefully, it continues in the right direction.

While hes not concerned with putting up individual stats over the remainder of the season, he does have certain goals he would like to accomplish.

Obviously, number one stay healthy and finish strong, he said. I think about the closers role, I think whatever happens happens, and next year hopefully Im at the top of that list. But for this year I think as a bullpen staff in general I think its important that we go out there and do our jobs."

And now, with the Sox blockbuster, nine-player trade completed, the hope is that the chaos that has surrounded the team for most of the season has quieted down, allowing the team to concentrate on baseball for the rest of the season.

Obviously weve had a lot of drama this year, so to speak, and I think now that the organization has made its mind up in which direction it wants to go, Bailey said. I think its just back to baseball and with so many questions flowing around the last couple weeks now its kind of a sense of Alright, its over with. Its done with. Lets focus on the game. We always come here with the goal in mind of winning a game but its just nice to get back to baseball.

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told CSNNE.com before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to CSNNE.com “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”