FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Yes, it’s important to execute pitches and get batters out at any time. But spring training can be split into two distinct sessions, Joel Hanrahan said.
The first where a pitcher is getting his work in, getting a feel for his pitches, a session in which closers come into games in the fourth inning, as he did today. The second where he is preparing for the regular season, with game plans, and attacking hitters.
The difference this year, though, will be that Hanrahan’s spring training will be separated by the arrival of Ryan Hanrahan on Monday. Hanrahan will leave camp Sunday, returning to Boston, where his wife Kim is scheduled to deliver Ryan, the couple’s first child, on Monday.
When he returns a week from today, he’d like to put outings like Thursdays’s behind him. Hanrahan faced six Twins batters in the fourth inning, recording just one out. He walked Josh Willingham to lead off the inning, then gave up consecutive well-hit singles to Ryan Doumit, Trevor Plouffe, Eduardo Escobar, and Jeff Clement, before striking out Brandon Boggs, ending the day for Hanrahan, who was ultimately charged with four runs in the Sox 12-5 win over the split-squad Twins.
“Good stuff,” said manager John Farrell. “He’s had very good stuff each time out. A number of fastballs found the middle of the plate. They put some good swings on them. But I think the most important thing is he doesn’t have to be perfect. He’s got very good stuff. But hewn he tried to overthrow a little bit, sometimes some fastballs came back to the middle of the plate.”
“You can make up excuses all day if you want to,” Hanrahan said. “You’re still trying to get people out and put up a zero no matter where you’re at. Can you emulate the ninth inning in Fenway or Yankee Stadium? No. It’s just impossible to do here. But that’s something that fortunately a lot of us have done before. We know how to handle it when that situation comes. It’s a little bit different when it’s 40,000 people, stuff like that. But in spring training we’re still trying to get people out. I’m not making any excuses. It was just a bad day.
“I felt great. I felt fine. I was just a little [mad] it didn’t go how we had planned. But I felt like the ball was coming out of my hand pretty good. It’s still missing that little notch of life to it but that’s something that comes with spring training. I was fortunate I kept the ball down or else there’d be a couple hit on what is that, Six Mile Cypress [the parkway beyond the outfield fence at Hammond Stadium]. So fortunately I was able to keep the ball down. Just missing over the middle. Unfortunately it was an ugly, ugly day.”
Hanrahan has yet to pitch in a save situation. In four games, spanning three innings, he has an ERA of 18.00. He’s been through it before, which makes it easier to deal with now. He joked that he was glad the game was not on TV and that Kim was at a doctor’s appointment, fearing his outing might put her into labor.
“Yeah, spring training’s not my best part,“ he said. “But when [Pittsburgh manager] Clint Hurdle named me the closer in 2011 people were calling for my head. I think I went out and I gave up home runs every game, having a terrible spring. And then the last week, 10 days it kind of came back to me. So I’m leaving out of here on Sunday, going home, my wife’s giving birth to our child. So I got to take it as I get two separate springs.
“In the middle of spring training that’s when you start turning it on and really try to focus on setting guys up and doing that and putting guys away. I had a couple opportunities today to put people away and we tried something different. Fortunately that’s what you can get away with in spring training. I’m not concerned about it. I don’t’ think [pitching coach Juan Nieves is] concerned about it. Obviously it’s different because we’re all new to each other. But I think I’ll be fine.”
Hanrahan’s next outing is Saturday against the Orioles, before leaving camp.