The closer opens for the Red Sox

The closer opens for the Red Sox
February 21, 2013, 6:30 pm
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(AP Photo)

FORT MYERS, Fla. – One of the novelties of spring training is seeing things that don’t normally occur during the regular season. Such as the seeing the guy who was acquired in the offseason to be the team’s closer starting a game. 

That was the case for the Red Sox' Joel Hanrahan Thursday afternoon against Northeastern.
 
“I’ve done it before,” said Hanrahan, who last started during the regular season when he was a rookie with the Nationals in 2007.
 
“It was the anticipation of waiting. We were done [with pregame work] kind of early today, so I was sitting there about 1 o'clock (prior to the 1:35 start). Should I get going? Should I wait? But I took it kind of as a real game when I was warming up. I took my normal 18 pitches to get ready for a game, walked in the dugout, grabbed a drink of water and went out. It wasn’t bad.”
 
Hanrahan went one scoreless inning, throwing 17 pitches, 13 for strikes. He gave up one hit, with two strikeouts, and a hit batter.  With an 0-and-2 count, he allowed a leadoff single to Aaron Barbosa, who also stole second base, one of two stolen bases in the game for the Huskies.
 
“Bad execution of a pitch,” Hanrahan said of Barbosa’s single. “Had him 0-2, tried to go up on him, and threw it right down the middle. But I laughed it off, had a good time with it. That’s part of the game. I think I heard him on second base telling [Dustin Pedroia] that he closed his eyes. That’s all right. He didn’t score. That’s the main thing.
 
“I was happy with how it went. I wasn’t planning on hitting that kid, poor guy [Jonny Vosler]. but I threw strikes for the most part so I was happy with that.”
                                                                     
Manager John Farrell was satisfied with Hanrahan’s outing.
 
“As we set out every pitcher to go the mound, establish fastball, attack the zone with it,” Farrell said. “I think as we get into their repetitive appearances, we’ll start to work on the running game a little bit more extensively through hold times, to quicken up their deliveries when needed. The objective that we set out today, we’ve been able to accomplish that.”
 
In his first few outings this spring, Hanrahan – who was uncertain how many innings he would need or get this spring – said his goal is simple.
 
“Really, just try not to embarrass myself,” he said. “Go out there, try to throw strikes, and feel good the next day. That’s the main thing.  At this point early in camp is just to hope your arm bounces back and be ready for the next game.
 
“I think I threw one breaking ball.  It was a good one. I think I struck a guy out on it.  But just try to establish fastball command and make sure I was throwing strikes.  So next game I’ll obviously mix some more in if the situation dictates it.  But these guys were a little bit behind on the fastballs today so throw a slider in there, that’s more their bat speed.  Just trying to throw strikes.”
 
And while facing college batters will be unlike anything he will do for the rest of spring training, it helps to get the competitive juices flowing.
 
“You can’t ever prepare for the adrenaline during the season,” he said. “This is a step above live batting practice.  It’s a little bit different than say a normal spring training game. But you still have people, another team out there trying to get hits off you. So it’s good in that sense.  But you can’t ever emulate a game.”