Door still open for decision on Red Sox closer

Door still open for decision on Red Sox closer
April 29, 2013, 12:30 pm
Share This Post

BOSTON -- Almost immediately upon the Red Sox’ acquisition of Joel Hanrahan, in a December trade with the Pirates, manager John Farrell announced Hanrahan would be the team’s closer.  With Andrew Bailey -- acquired in a trade almost exactly a year before Hanrahan -- still in the Sox pen, but coming of a season of injury and ineffectiveness, the move preempted any potential closer controversy.
 
But Hanrahan has been beset by his own ineffectiveness this season - a record of 0-1, three saves, and a blown save, with an ERA of 11.57 - and has been on the disabled list since April 14 with a right hamstring strain. In his absence, Bailey has served as the closer.
 
In eight games in that time, spanning eight innings, Bailey is 1-0, with a 2.25 ERA, 13 strikeouts, two walks, five hits, five saves, and a blown save.  He suffered the blown save, also taking the win, on April 15, in his first game in that stretch. After that, Bailey has allowed a run in just one of his seven outings, giving up a lead-off home run on April 20, against the Royals, but earning a save in the game.
 
Hanrahan, who made two rehab appearances for Triple-A Pawtucket, is expected to be activated from the DL on Tuesday for the start of a three-game series in Toronto. Right-hander Daniel Bard has been optioned back to Double-A Portland, opening a roster spot for Hanrahan.
 
In his two outings, Friday and Sunday, Hanrahan went a combined two innings, giving up two runs on two hits, with a home run, one walk, and one strikeout. On Sunday, he threw a scoreless inning in the Paw Sox loss to Columbus, with one walk on 17 pitches, eight strikes.
 
Farrell has not said if Hanrahan would reclaim the closer role or if it is Bailey’s. The pitchers say they don’t know, either.
 
“They haven’t really talked to me yet. So we’ll see,” Bailey said. “Hopefully we get him back soon.
 
“I think the organization knows what I want to do and they know what he wants to do. Everybody wants to close. The decision’s up to them. And it’s just nice, to kind of feel like the guy they traded for again and be healthy out there. But that being said, I think we got 25 guys on the same page and we all want to get to the playoffs and go to the World Series. That’s the ultimate goal."
 
Likewise, Hanrahan said he does not know.
 
“No idea,” Hanrahan told the Pawtucket Times after his outing on Sunday.
 
But his leg is feeling better.
 
“I was a little jumpy and excited there, but I was able to step back and get things going,” Hanrahan said. “The main thing is that my leg didn’t bother me and nothing held me back physically. One of my biggest concerns was turning up the intensity and seeing how it goes.”
 
The situation will resolve itself, Bailey believes. 
 
“Yeah, it’ll play itself out,” he said. “And that’s kind of the way I looked at it at the beginning of the year. I knew, I asked them,  ‘Hey, I want an opportunity.’  And they said they wanted to go ahead and just name it that way. There’s no conversation about it, and that’s fine by me. So they know I can do a variety of things down there, but like I said, every reliever wants to close. But the ultimate goal is going deep in this year and getting into the playoffs.”
 
The good thing, both pitchers say, is that the Sox have capable options for the role.
 
“[Bailey’s] done that job before and has been a two-time All-Star, as well,” Hanrahan told the Times. “It’s not like it’s new to him. Those guys have been rolling and hopefully they’ll take me back in whatever role and I can join the fun again.”
 
“And we’re playing good baseball right now,” Bailey said. “So I think if we can continue doing what we’re doing down there as a unit, we got a lot of games, and everyone’s throwing the ball really well down there, myself included. So it’s just once [you’re healthy and] you have no doubts in your head you can just go out there and focus on the job you got to do.”