Red Sox reliever Andrew Bailey, who was told by the team that the acquisition of right-hander Joel Hanrahan from the Pirates meant that Bailey would move from the closer's role to that of an eighth-inning setup man, said that he welcomed the addition of the two-time All-Star. Bailey also said that he would embrace the new stage of the game where he will be pitching in 2013.
"I’m excited to have him. I think it makes our bullpen that much stronger," said Bailey. "I think ultimately, with how things went last year, with myself being injured, it’s a business. I understand that. I’m excited. I’m excited for the moves we’ve made, not only in the bullpen but all around. I think it’s definitely an addition to our ‘pen and it makes us that much stronger. I think that with me and him going eight, nine, that’s kind of set out in the forefront, I like it and I think it makes us that much stronger. The focus is on winning. It makes our team better. Plus, with everyone else in the ‘pen, it makes us one of the strongest assets on the team."
Bailey acknowledged that his desire -- like that of virtually any reliever -- is to close. Nonetheless, the two-time All-Star and 2009 AL Rookie of the Year said that, after recording a 7.04 ERA while pitching in just 19 games last year and missing more than four months due to thumb surgery, he's more interested in being part of a winning team than in which inning he pitches. And in conversations with manager John Farrell and GM Ben Cherington prior to the team's deal for Hanrahan, Bailey was encouraged about the direction in which the team is heading.
"Last year, from a player’s standpoint, especially mine, I’m trying to make up for how things went on my end. That’s starting with the injury," said Bailey. "My focus is on staying healthy this year and doing my job. If I can do that, then the team will be winning ballgames and we’ll be celebrating. I think that’s where the focus is. So I wasn’t really surprised by any moves we’ve made. And I think the moves we have made, including Hanrahan, have all been positive. It’s all focused on winning in 2013. With what everyone went through last year, the focus needs to be on winning in 2013. That’s what the organization and city deserve.
"We have the key compoentents in place. It’s just kind of adding things here and there. Talking with Ben and talking with John, when they called me and let me know that the trade was being talked about, everything was focused on winning. As a player, that’s what you want to hear -- an organization that is geared towards winning. If that means I have to change roles, so to speak, I get to play baseball for a living and I throw in the eighth inning rather than the ninth inning.
"Sure, it’s first priority for all relievers to want to close. But it’s not like I’m upset about it or anything. It’s just a tweak in the job description. It’s not the end of anything. It will be good. I’m looking forward to working with [Hanrahan]. I think it’s going to be a great duo down there, and obviously with everyone coming back, it’s going to be awesome. Like I said, there’s going to be a lot of arms to choose from and matchups. It’s going to be a lot of fun."
As for his own preparations for the offseason, Bailey said that he's tweaked his workout routine to reflect more precisely his role. That, Bailey hopes, will permit him to leave behind the injuries that have dogged him in the last three years.
"I’ve kind of put things all together in the offseason, so to speak. I needed to," said Bailey. "I know what my track record is the last couple years. Last year, with the thumb, you can’t prepare for things like that, but trying to … get out in front of everything, be stronger, quicker and more explosive. That’s what I do for a living."
For more Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.
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