DETROIT -- Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey, in a conference call to discuss the right thumb injury and subsequent surgery that will keep him out for the first half of the 2012 season, expressed his frustration with what he described as a "freak injury." Bailey said that he thought nothing of it when he had a minor collision and subsequent fall in a game against the Pirates on March 21.
However, over the coming days, he felt pain building in his thumb to the point where he couldn't grip the ball for a long toss session after a 1 2/3 innings minor league appearance on March 28. He also started feeling pain and weakness in ordinary day-to-day activities such as when he held a shampoo bottle.
"I had trouble gripping the baseball and there was a lot of pain involved," said Bailey. "That’s when I was really like, OK, we’ve got to get on top of this thing. It was obviously too late by then."
Bailey said that he was told that the fact that he kept throwing after the initial injury did not worsen the condition, and that his full injury was suffered in the collision. He was sent out for multiple exams and it was determined that he had a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb that would require surgery that will likely have him out until August.
"It’s not a throwing thing. ... It’s a freak thing. It stinks," said Bailey. "I went through the phases of being frustrated and pissed off. ... It is what it is. I can’t pitch with it. Get it fixed and move forward."
Bailey -- a two-time All-Star with a career 2.07 ERA and 75 saves in three seasons with the A's -- expressed disappointment that his Red Sox career will begin with an appearance on the DL. However, he also expressed optimism that he will be able to contribute to the Sox this year, based on the recovery pattern of others who have had this surgery such as Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Triple-A outfielder Jason Repko.
"I know from what typical UCL thumb injuries take, I think it’s safe to say that I will be back before the end of the year. In terms of how soon that will be, that kind of depends on the body, the throwing program and all that kind of stuff," said Bailey. "Talking with the doctor, I’m fairly confident in saying I will be back before the end of the year and help this team get to the playoffs and win a World Series. That’s still the goal, man. The goal doesn’t change. These guys are still going to go to bat every day and do damage and dominate games. It just stinks I won’t be a part of it until later in the year, but we’ll get ready to rock as I can. Like I said, we haven't really put a timetable on it. Just waiting to see. Doctor said the surgery went well. We didn't have to reconstruct anything. That's a good sign."
Until he can return, Bailey suggested that he is optimistic about what his teammates in the bullpen can do.
"There’s a lot of good arms down there in the bullpen and those guys are going to have a great year and I’m looking forward to joining them at some point and time and hopefully soon. They’ll be fine," said Bailey. "The way things happened and when I got injured, very late, a lot of questions the last couple of days. It’s kind of all thrown in a jumble at the end. Those guys will get their roles defined and guys will pitch themselves into certain situations and all that kind of stuff and it will be good."
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