Farrell: Hanrahan's still our closer

Farrell: Hanrahan's still our closer
April 11, 2013, 6:00 pm
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BOSTON -- As he did in the aftermath of an ugly loss Wednesday night, John Farrell reiterated Thursday that Joel Hanrahan remains the Red Sox' primary closer -- but perhaps not for the team's series finale against the Orioles Thursday night.
Hanrahan imploded in the ninth inning Wednesday, turning a 5-3 Red Sox lead into a 8-5 defeat, allowing five runs on two homers, two walks, a single and a wild pitch.
That Hanrahan needed 32 pitches to get two outs -- Andrew Miller finished the inning for the Sox -- probably takes him out of commission for Thursday night.
But only temporarily.
"We talked more about going forward,'' said Farrell, who met with Hanrahan in the afternoon. "He's our closer. After 32 stressful pitches [Wednesday] night, regardless of the outcome, we've got to consider recovery time. I think Joel is well aware of what took place [Wednesday] night. If in fact we need to stay away from Joel tonight, we feel confident we can build back to a guy (Andrew Bailey) who has a lot of closing experience in the past.''
Farrell cited poor location as the major reason for Hanrahan's meltdown Thursday night and blamed the missed location on the pitcher perhaps being too aggressive.
"Any time you overthrow a little bit,'' he said, "you're going to sacrifice location for additional velocity. By no means would we ask Joel to try throw with less velocity, but prioritizing location is maybe any pitcher's goal going in. And recognizing that in those ninth innings, there's a lot of adrenaline to harness. He's had a lot of success doing that, but [Wednesday night] was unfortunately a game that got away from him.''
Hanrahan is changing markets -- going from the lower expectation in Pittsburgh to the white-hot intensity of Boston -- but also switching from National League lineups with pitchers to more power-packed lineups in the American League, featuring a DH.
"He's facing hitters he hasn't seen in quite a while,'' said Farrell, "and the way lineups are constructed here, versus a pitcher or a pinch-hitter showing up late in the game after being on the bench all night, and it's a little bit of a different animal -- the lineups in the American League.''
Pitching coach Juan Nieves doesn't believe there's anything mechanically that needs fixing.
"His delivery is his delivery,'' said Nieves. "He's had it for several years. I think location is very important. You can have great stuff, but you have to hit the mitt, there has to be a purpose with every pitch. We're going to talk about it today, but to me, location is the most important thing. To me, his stuff is good enough. He throws 99 mph with a great slider, but the consistency with that has to be a little better.
"Good major-league hitters hit poorly located fastballs and poorly located breaking pitches -- that's why they get paid a lot of money. Basically, it's a challenge of seeing the glove and hitting the glove more often than not.''
In addition to learning the league and its hitters, Nieves said, Hanrahan must also become comfortable with his two catchers, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ross, so they know what to expect from him.
"But I haven't seen a closer yet who's had a perfect year,'' said Nieves. "And if they were perfect during the season, they usually messed up during the playoffs. That's the way it goes.''