Bailey looks to finish strong, make his mark next season

Bailey looks to finish strong, make his mark next season
August 28, 2012, 5:46 am
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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.