BOSTON Closer Andrew Bailey, who has been on the disabled list all season after surgery on his right thumb, threw a bullpen session Wednesday, with about 25 pitches, and is expected to throw another on Friday. After that, he and the Red Sox will re-evaluate to see what the next step is.Its kind of up to them, what they feel, Bailey said Thursday afternoon in the Sox clubhouse. For me, its just about seeing hitters and it doesnt really matter what level its at. For me its about going out, working on things I need to work on to be able to pitch at this level.He felt great yesterday when I talked to him, after throwing his first time in the bullpen, manager Bobby Valentine said. I didnt get him yet today. But hes got a program where hes going to throw in the bullpen and then throw to some hitters and then hes going to start pitching in some games. And hopefully be back.Bailey was delayed in spring training because of a strained lat muscle he suffered doing the vertical jump in his spring training physical. He suffered the thumb injury at the end of the spring.But with the thumb now a non-issue, its a matter of building up arm strength.Theres still residual achiness, I guess you would say. But the thumb was stable and thats what we were looking for. And now all thats gone. Its basically 100 percent.Ive been throwing flat-ground curveballs, cutters, everything. And just kind of working them all into the mound and then into BPs and that kind of stuff.Bailey has visited Dr. Thomas Graham, who performed the April 4 surgery, twice, around the two-week and six-week post-surgery mark.I just knew that right around that seven- or eight-week mark is when you could actually throwing a baseball again, Bailey said. So in terms of that, it was right on schedule and for us to get back, or for me to get back its just kind of a spring training type thing. You take eight weeks off of throwing thats a big step back. So you got to work your way up.It hasnt been easy to sit and watch without being able to participate.Now that Im throwing bullpens its even more nerve wracking not being able to, he said. You sit there, it doesnt matter if Im here or in Florida. Eighth ninth inning come around youre like the adrenaline starts going. But yeah Im excited and things are going really well.Bailey praised the work of Alfredo Aceves, who is 17-for-20 in save opportunities this season.Hes done great, nothing wrong with what hes doing, Bailey said. Hes shutting the door down and its fun to watch that. Thats a hard situation to jump into, me going down at the end of spring training and him fighting for that starters job and then having to go into closers mentality right away. Hes done a fantastic job. You cant really ask for anything better from him.Bailey will stay with the team through the homestand, which goes through Wednesday. He will then travel back to the teams Fort Myers training complex before going out on a rehab assignment. There is no timetable on a return to the team yet.Its hard to think that hell get here without having those eight nor nine rehab innings under his belt, Valentine said. Spring training, sometimes to get those eight innings, because of so many other people, you have to wait an extra day. Where here we wont have to wait when hes ready. Hell be able to get on the thrill of hills.Although Bailey said in spring training that he wanted to get eight or nine innings in, he doesnt have a target number of rehab innings.No, not really, he said. We havent really talked about it. I would think it would be more than two or three. I havent really faced, even when I was in spring training, kind of battling that thumb thing for a little bit that was in the back of my head. So were just going to take it one at a time and Im sure that we havent even talked about doing back to backs or anything yet. Were just going to take tomorrow and reevaluate: Hey, when do you want to throw the next one? and then hopefully get a couple in during this homestand.
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