During a call with the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday, new Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey talked about how excited he is to be joining the Red Sox and getting the opportunity to play in front of a passionate fan base.
Bailey said he wasn't surprised to be traded after hearing rumors since the end of the season and seeing teammates get shipped off by the cost-conscious A's.
"I was very excited when I found out I was a Red Sox, because I love the organization, I love the team," he said. "Obviously, they're always in contention and we're ready to do big things this year. … I was very, very stoked when I heard it was the Red Sox."
Added Bailey: "I came up in the A's organization, I was drafted by the A's and they'll always be my first team and I'll always have a tie there. But your window as a player to win a World Series is only so big. I'm fortunate enough now to be part of an organization that has that chance every single year."
Bailey grew up in South Jersey, outside Philadelphia, and now spends his offseasons in Connecticut, so he is no stranger to the intensity of baseball fans in this region despite having spent his major league career pitching in Oakland.
"My dream is to play in a big city, a big market, and close out ballgames," he said. "And that's clearly going to happen. I'm excited about that. And I know it's a different market than Oakland. Everyone always says you're going to have quadruple the amount of fans in the stands than you do in Oakland, and I know it's true. Then again, I also played in those environments against the Red Sox, against the Yankees and have enjoyed success over the last three years pitching agains the same guys I'm going to be facing just with a different uniform on. So, for me, I'm excited about that because instead of the Red Sox fans cheering against me when I'm out there, they're going to be cheering for me."
Following are more highlights from the interview.
On his history of injuries: "For some reason I had the injury bug over the last couple of years. I had a little knee operation done after '09. And last year I had some bone chips and bone spurs taken out of the elbow as a result from Tommy John back in '05. But I've been completely healthy throughout the minor leagues. And since I've come back, I had a little hiccup back in spring training when I tried to kick it up a notch, it just wasn't ready to go and strained my forearm. But since then, I've been fine, I've been healthy. Like you said, I'm excited for this year because I've been able to get after it since Day 1. I haven't had to worry about rehabbing an injury into December or even into spring training. That's what I'm excited about." (For more on Bailey's injury history and how it has impacted his career, click here .)
On new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, with whom he has done some charity work in Connecticut: "Bobby, being a Stamford guy, helps us out a lot with different events. That's really the extent of our relationship. I'm looking forward to getting to know him on the field, playing for him. If he can bring the same amount of energy that he can do to a charity event, doing an auction or something like that, it's going to be a big year up in Boston. I'm excited, because he brings it every single day, no matter what. … Once you get a chance to know Bobby V. and what he's about, he's all about winning. And that's what's most important."
On replacing Jonathan Papelbon: "Jonathan Papelbon's definitely one of the best in the game. And I know a lot of Boston Red Sox fans are going to miss him. He's been a staple there for a number of years now. The only thing I can say is I hope when my time's up as a Red Sox, when I retire or whatever happens, I hope the guy following me gets those same questions: What are you going to do to follow up Andrew Bailey? Hopefully I'll have the same type of resume as Papelbon."
On his pitching style: "I don't throw as hard as [Papelbon] -- I'd say low, mid-90s. I throw a cutter and a curveball and an occasional changeup. I like to be aggressive, attack the strike zone, get ahead of guys. My motto I live by is: First-pitch strike is the best pitch in baseball. You get ahead of guys, put the pressure on them, make them miss bats and make them miss the barrel."
On pitching in Fenway: "I'm excited about it. I love pitching at Fenway. The atmosphere, running in as a visitor, is electric. It can only be better wearing that jersey. I'm looking forward to it. I know you've got the wall out there, but I'm a guy that lives on the outside part of the plate, for the most part. Especially with lefties, cutters in, you're really not going to do too much out to left with that. Righties, everything's going away from them. So, it's going to be hard to hook it. I like to live on that side of the plate. We'll see how it goes. I'm an aggressive type of guy, don't like to walk guys, don't like to give them the freebies."
On outfielder Ryan Sweeney, who also comes over from the A's: "Especially with the lineup that we have, he's going to fit in nicely there, both in the clubhouse and on the field. He's a guy that brings defense to the table. He loves to go opposite field, so he's going to live off that wall. He doesn't have so much pop where he's going to drive the ball out of the ballpark too often. He'll get his, but he loves that left field, opposite-field hitting. He's a natural at it, loves to just slice it down the line into the corner, and then can throw it off the Green Monster over there. It's going to be a fun place for him to play. His game might even change a little bit. He might even start driving balls into that gap. I'm looking forward to it. He's a great dude. Everyone's going to love him."
To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page . For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox . For more information about the charity Bailey supports along with former teammate Craig Breslow, check out strike3foundation.org .