Hanrahan wild but Farrell sticking with him

Hanrahan wild but Farrell sticking with him
April 13, 2013, 8:15 pm

BOSTON –  The Red Sox acquired Joel Hanrahan to be their closer in an off-season trade with the Pirates. After Andrew Bailey started the 2012 season on the disabled and struggled when he was finally activated in August, the Sox weren’t sure what they would be able to get from Bailey this season. Leading them to go after Hanrahan.
 
Now, after six appearances this season, the Sox aren’t exactly sure what they can expect from Hanrahan.
 
Manager John Farrell went to Hanrahan to start the ninth inning against the Rays Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park with the score tied. A typical situation to bring your closer in. But, Hanrahan walked the first two batters he faced – including Evan Longoria on four pitches to lead off the inning. After Hanrahan went to 1-and-0 to Ben Zobrist, pitching coach Juan Nieves went to the mound.  Whatever Nieves said, it did little good as Hanrahan walked Zobrist on eight pitches.
 
That was enough for Farrell. Hanrahan was done without recording an out. Twelve pitches, four strikes.
 
Koji Uehara came in, getting the Sox out of the inning unscathed.
 
Hanrahan’s struggles didn’t show in the final score, as the Sox beat the Rays, 2-1, in 10 innings.
 
But, in 4 2/3 innings this season Hanrahan has allowed six runs on six hits, including three home runs, and five walks with four strikeouts for an ERA of 11.57. In Wednesday’s loss to the Orioles, when Hanrahan was charged with a blown save and the loss, he gave up five runs in two-thirds of an inning with two home runs. He had never allowed more than one home run in an outing before in his career.
 
Those aren’t exactly numbers you want to see from your closer. But Farrell said he has no plans to change that.
 
“No, no move’s going to be made,” he said. “That’s the situation that the closer comes in, tie game at home. But after the two lead-off walks, felt like we had someone behind him with someone ready to go, with Koji. And right now Joel’s going through a little bit of a spell where things aren't clicking for him, but we’re still with him. We got a guy today picked him up in Koji and did one heck of a job to shut off that threat in the ninth.”
 
Hanrahan has struggled to command both his fastball and slider.
 
“Today it was clear that he was looking to command the ball down and away to right handers,” Farrell said. “With Longoria he missed a couple of times, obviously, for the walk. Then on the 3-2 pitch. I thought he regrouped a little bit after the first ball to go 1-and-0 to Zobrist. Got back in the count. Looked like he’s on his way in that situation. But after the 3-2 base on balls, felt like it was time to make a move right there. But again he’s pitching in some tight spots. And I know that’s the life of a closer. But I thought it was time to make a move.
 
“Delivery is pretty much the same. But today it looked like he was pitching a little bit careful, and totally understand it.”
 
Hanrahan knows something is not right.
 
“It's kind of obvious, if you look at where I’m missing the whole time,” he said. “Something’s not right and got to fix it.”
 
The questions, though, are how and how quickly.
 
“I hope it’s going to be pretty easy,” he said. “I think Juan’s kind of pinpointed it out and it’s just finding the time to get out there and fix it.”
 
This is not the start he was hoping for with his new team.
 
“Obviously, it’s not the way I want it to go, but we’re still winning games,” he said. “So that’s what’s important. Our bullpen, the guys picked me up today and that’s what makes a good bullpen.”
 
He’s not the only closer who has gone through these kinds of struggles.
 
“Yeah, sometimes things just kind of feel off,” said Bailey. “He’ll get through it and we’ll find our way. He’s our guy down there and he’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”
 
But can the Sox continue to do that?  Can they continue to put him into the closer’s situation hoping he will figure things out? With other capable arms in the bullpen, can they still hand the ball to Hanrahan in that role?
 
Immediately after Saturday’s game it was too soon to answer that.
 
“Because we are just minutes out of the game and have yet to talk with Joel,” Farrell said. “We’re not going to deviate from that at this moment.”
 
For the second time in as many outings, Hanrahan was met with a chorus of boos as he left the field.
 
“Joel will be back,” said Shane Victorino, who had the game-winning hit. “He’s going to be fine. We just got to stay positive with hm. As an outfielder listening to some of the reactions kind of frustrates me. But the guy's been there before. It's early in the season, he’s trying to get through some things and once he does he’s going to be a dominant closer.”