Uehara will take over as Sox closer

Uehara will take over as Sox closer
June 21, 2013, 5:00 pm
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DETROIT -- It's unknown for how long, but the Red Sox have determined that, for now, Koji Uehara will serve as the team's closer in the wake of two blown saves by erstwhile closer Andrew Bailey.    

Bailey blew a 3-2 lead Thursday night at Comerica Park, walking Victor Martinez and allowing a walk-off two-run homer to Jhonny Peralta, handing the Detroit Tigers a 4-3 win.    

It was Bailey's fourth blown save of the season.    

"Had a chance to talk to (Uehara) and Andrew and it's kind of just where we're at,'' said manager John Farrell. "Feel like Andrew needs to kind of back out and get some opportunities where he gets a little momentum going. We did this before with (Bailey) and Joel (Hanrahan) as well. All good players go through stretches where things aren't happening for them, and that's our approach right now.''    

"I'm not going to change anything,'' said Uehara through an interpreter. "I'm going to do my best and just go about my business.''    

Uehara is unsure of how long the role might belong to him, half-jokingly suggesting: "I'm assuming two or three days. I haven't been told anything (further).''    

Uehara, 38, has been among the most consistent of relievers in the Red Sox bullpen. In 32 games, he has a 2.10 ERA and with 42 strikeouts in 30 innings. His WHIP is an excellent .867.    

He has some limited closing experience. In Japan, he closed one season for the Yomiuri Giants, with 32 saves. In 2010, he served as a temporary closer for Baltimore, earning 13 saves.    

"(Experience) had a lot to do with it,'' said Farrell. "I think we're very confident when he walks to the mound. He's been very good for us. He's had success in closing opportunities previously, so there's an element of not only dependability but success in the past that we're turning to.''    

In spring training, manager John Farrell said, due to age and injury history, he was reluctant to use Uehara on consecutive days. He has since done that six times during the regular season and Uehara today suggested that pitching on back-to-back days wouldn't be a concern.    

"It's just something I stayed away from during spring training,'' said Uehara. "But I'm completely fine with that.''    

"We'll see,'' said Farrell of Uehara's usage. "Hopefully we have save opportunities every night, and if he's not available, we have confidence that it can be Junichi (Tazawa), it can be Andrew Miller, and in time, Andrew Bailey.    

Meanwhile, Bailey had no qualms with the move.    

"It's understandable,'' said Bailey. "I haven't been doing the job.''    

For the time being, Bailey will be used mostly in low leverage situations -- i.e., with the Sox behind or comfortably ahead.    

"I think, based on who's available, what the situation is, we need to keep him in the mix,'' said Farrell. "He's still a very important reliever to us. He's healthy, and yet things aren't quite clicking for him. I have complete confidence that, in time, he's going to pitch some very meaningful innings for us.''    

Even in the ninth inning Thursday, Farrell saw some positive signs.    

"Despite the outcome,'' said Farrell, "he was down in the zone better, he used his breaking ball a little bit more and yet it ends up in a two-run homer. It's going to come through some work where he gains some confidence on his part and he starts to realize some positive results and in times carries that back into the ninth inning.''    

Bailey, too, added that he expected to rebound and reclaim the role in time.    

"I'll throw that list pitch of the year,'' he vowed.