Make no mistake: Andrew Bailey loves closing. He loves the adrenaline of coming in out of the bullpen, has embraced the idea of getting the crowd at Fenway Park to erupt to the sound of “Shipping Up To Boston” (the song that formerly heralded the entry of Jonathan Papelbon, but that Bailey and his teammates decided to celebrate when they returned from their last roadtrip determined to make a statement on behalf of their city), loves being the final line of defense en route to victory.
And he’s been very, very good in that role, perhaps more so than ever in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s game when he struck out three straight left-handers — John Jaso, Seth Smith and Jed Lowrie — with cutters that had the downward tilt of sliders and showed devastating movement in on the southpaws.
Bailey now has five saves, a 1.59 ERA and an eye-popping 20 strikeouts (against four walks) in 11 1/3 innings. Yet at least in theory, the job of Red Sox closer might not be his by next week. When the Sox traded for Joel Hanrahan this winter, they called Bailey before the trade was announced to inform him of the move and to let Bailey know that it would be Hanrahan who would pitch in the ninth, with Bailey setting up.
It wasn’t Bailey’s preference, but he embraced the responsibility he was given. Now, he was asked, would he be amenable to conceding the role of closer back to Hanrahan when the latter comes off the DL?
“It’s not my decision to make. Obviously talking with them before the trade them, I told them I just want an opportunity and a chance to win that job,” said Bailey. “[But] they know that my goal was to stay healthy and prove that I can pitch. I think I’ve proven that. We’ll see what happens when he comes back. We’re all on the same page in terms of where we want to take this team. Whatever roles are, roles are. We’ll see what happens. We have 25 guys here on the same page, and we want to win a World Series. I really don’t think it matters what inning you pitch.
“Everybody wants to be the closer and everybody wants to pitch the ninth inning and right now that’s my job. Unfortunately Joel went down and he’ll be back soon. It’s not my decision to make but I was brought here to do a job last year. Injury got in the way and I wasn’t able to do that. My goal is just staying out in the field this year and they know what I can do. It’s just nice to be back out there and getting wins. We’re off to a great start and the team is playing well. That’s really all that matters.”
That the Sox have had the luxury of replacing one two-time All-Star closer with another has been a critical factor in the team’s early-season success. A year ago, the team sputtered out of the gate when surgery on Bailey’s thumb yielded bullpen chaos. This year, Hanrahan’s struggles and then absence have not derailed the team, thanks in no small part to the excellent work of Bailey.
“He’s pitched with no restrictions physically first and foremost. He’s back to the level in which he was a two-time All-Star: aggressive, multiple pitches for strikes, and even with the energy which he does execute, he’s able to make a secondary pitch as we saw today with the two 3-2 breaking balls,” said Sox manager John Farrell, alluding to a pair of punchouts on Bailey’s cutters-qua-sliders. “Even though when you look at him he looks like he’s pitching with his hair on fire, but he’s out there with a definite plan and he’s able to execute it.”
More important to Bailey than the inning in which he contributes is the fact that he is once again able to take the mound without restriction. His disappointment in losing the game-ending duties during the offseason was secondary to the fact that, after the Red Sox traded Josh Reddick, Miles Head and Raul Alcantara to acquire him (and outfielder Ryan Sweeney) from the A’s, he was never in position to justify that decision in 2012.
Now, in 2013, the talent that prompted the Sox to make such a deal is on display with increasing frequency.
“I’m confident enough to go out there and know that I can put up good numbers and I think unfortunately I’ve had a little bit of an injury bug throughout my career but I’m healthy now and I’ll keep on rolling,” said Bailey. “That’s kind of where I’m at right now. I want to prove to myself and major league baseball that I can stay healthy and put up a good season again.”
Pete, Thornton and Price give their final thoughts and predictions for the Super Bowl.
Gabe calls the boys to handicap one of the biggest gambling days of the year - Super Bowl 51! Gabe has all the point spread info down and gets to all of the major prop bets that interest him.
Fauria is still down in Houston and calls live from NRG Stadium to give his take on what will go down later on in Super Bowl 51. He likes the Pats and gives his reasons why, but also gets into the scene in Houston all week, famous people he met and why he is tired out from a wild week.
The NBA trade rumor mill is beginning to swirl as the deadline approaches and Picard is ready to go! He talks about the possibility of Jimmy Butler coming to Boston, why Isaiah Thomas is not getting enough respect and the future of the Celtics.
Adrian Wojnarowski has been talking about the possibility of the Celtics making a trade with the Bulls to bring Jimmy Butler to Boston. He actually thinks it may be the the marquee deal to keep an eye on this week heading into the trade deadline. Pete and Jerry discuss and give their thoughts on if they would want Butler. Pete thinks it will happen, Jerry thinks Ainge will stay put. The guys get into more Celtics, present and future and if they can battle with the best of the NBA.
Anna Horford, sister of Boston Celtics Al Horford, makes her Boston radio debut. She talks about Twitter and reacting to mean tweets about her brother. She also gives us her thoughts on the city of Boston and racism.
Bradford checks in from spring training to give us all the media dirt he can dig up...oh, and talk some baseball too.
Rob Bradford is joined by Lou Merloni to talk life in spring training, his toiletries, sleeping arrangements, and facing off with Red Sox personnel that he might have been critical of. Rob and Lou also get into the dynamic of electronic and print media when it comes to ripping the Red Sox.
Pete, Bradford, and Tomase are talking all about the Boston Red Sox, who opened spring training on Monday with pitchers and catchers reporting. They talk about what the Red Sox approach at the plate will be to replace the loss of David Ortiz bat, the impact of some players participating in the WBC, and of course the pitching rotation.
Guys talk the Bruins season so far and the All-Star Break
Guys discuss if or when the Bruins will fire Coach Julian
Ken, Rear and Ty get into a very solid week for the B's beating St Louis and the Flyers and losing a hard-fought game against the Predators. Is this team turning things around? Krug and Marchand are kicking things up a notch. The guys also talk about Claude and Sweeney's job security before getting into some big hits around the league this week.
Hour 4. Red Sox broadcaster Dave O'Brien joins the show.
Hour 3. The guys take more calls on transgender bathrooms. Evan Drellich joins the show...again.
Dino reunites with the guys at spring training.
Max Kellerman rips Pats fans. Skip Bayless says Bill Belichick is "good, not great." And Dan Le Batard feels the heat from Keyshawn Johnson regarding his criticisms of Magic Johnson.
It took a few hours, but Glenn finally starts to agree with Lou and Mut about Danny Ainge.
Obviously the Celtics aren't expected to overtake the Cavs in the East, but the guys wonder if the team is trying to get a little bit better each year, or hold onto their assets until LeBron is over the hill.
We spoke with Danny Ainge and discussed all aspects of the Celtics, trading deadline, playoffs and beyond.
We close out Freestyle Friday with more Pats, Sox and Celtics talk.
We continue freestyle Friday with Brady and Jimmy G trade talk, plus more on the Celtics and the Vancouver Canucks have the mumps!
Kirk and Glenn continue their conversation from last week. In this episode Kirk and Glenn scream at each other about the infamous "station incident", what the news of the merger means to WEEI and the Sports Hub, and Kirk tries to get Glenn to answer what the perfect "Big Show" would be. You will not find a better look behind the scenes of radio.
Kirk sits down with the legend Glenn Ordway to talk about when Glenn got fired here at WEEI, his start with the station, the controversial decisions he made when he was the Program Director, and he relationship with Eddie Andelman.
Kirk chats with David Duchovny about his current music tour, which takes him to the Wilbur on February 22nd, how David got his start in television, from his first stint on Red Shoe Diaries, becoming a superstar on the X-Files, and his hilarious appearances on the Larry Sanders Show. This is a fascinating discussion about show business and controlling your own career.
Ken Laird and Chris Curtis recap Wednesday and Thursday's K&C shows on location in Ft. Myers
Kirk and Glenn continue their conversation from last week. In this episode Kirk and Glenn scream at each other about the infamous "station incident", what the news of the merger means to WEEI and the Sports Hub, and Kirk tries to get Glenn to answer what the perfect "Big Show" would be.
Rich Keefe & Ryan Davey talk best and worst movie/TV presidents. Plus the always important "This Week in #DORK" and the Pick of the Podcast.
Kirk and Glenn continue their conversation from last week. In this episode Kirk and Glenn scream at each other about the infamous "station incident", what the news of the merger means to WEEI and the Sports Hub, and Kirk tries to get Glenn to answer what the perfect "Big Show" would be.More from this show
Hour 4. Evan Drellich joins the show. A fight for the ages ensues.More from this show
Kirk and Glenn continue their conversation from last week. In this episode Kirk and Glenn scream at each other about the infamous "station incident", what the news of the merger means to WEEI and the Sports Hub, and Kirk tries to get Glenn to answer what the perfect "Big Show" would be. You will not find a better look behind the scenes of radio.More from this show
Dino reunites with the guys at spring training.More from this show
Hour 2. John Steigerwald says Brady doesn't pass the eye test. Headlines with Kirk.More from this show