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.”
Patriots Safety Devin McCourty joined Glenn, Lou, and Christian, and talked about covering the Steelers Wide Receivers, and how he's helping the players who are in the AFC Championship for the first time prepare.
ProFootball Talk's Mike Florio told Glenn, Lou, and Christian that the Patriots have a quiet confidence that they can outscore the Steelers, since they've proven they have the ability.
Holley and Keefe check in with NFL Network's Heath Evans for some final thoughts on the Houston win and to look ahead at the Steelers in the AFC Championship.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Ben Kichen of the 'Dale and Holley Show' talk about Isaiah Thomas' flagrant foul against the Heat, and also discuss why it's time for the Celtics to address their biggest need.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Ben Kichen of the "Dale and Holley Show" discuss the latest news on the injury that has kept Isaiah Thomas off the court and how valuable it is for Marcus Smart to stay in control.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Ben Kichen of 'The Dale and Holley Show' talk about last night's disappointing finish against the Rockets and they talk about their love for DeMarcus Cousins.
Mut, Rob, and John are talking about some of the Hall of Fame candidates who gained or lost support within the last year. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds both gained support, while Curt Schilling lost a chunk of votes he had gotten last year.
Mut, Bradford, and Tomase are in after it was announced that Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan 'Pudge' Rodriguez will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. They also talk about some notable candidates who weren't elected this year like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.
Rob Bradford is joined by Jackie Bradley Jr. to discuss race in baseball and in Boston, along with the importance of Martin Luther King Day. The Red Sox outfielder also dives into how he never really felt comfortable in a major league clubhouse until last year, the approach he's taking heading into 2017, and why he's not playing in the World Baseball Classic.
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.
Ken, Rear and Ty talk all things Bruins as they come off a 4-0 shutout win in Florida and head to Carolina later today. Did that victory save Claude's job? The boys get into Don Sweeney's recent comments on Claude's job and what the future holds for the black and gold.
Hour two of Saturday Skate as Ken Laird and Rear Admiral kick around the perception of backup goalie Anton Khudobin, B's coach Claude Julien, and possible trade target Gabriel Landeskog.
"D-Wood" Joins the show to talk Brady vs. Rodgers and predicts a Patriots-Packers Super Bowl.
Hour 4. Bill Belichick holds his Friday press conference while Mut and Kirk try and play a game. Mut has a big announcement. Gerry calls in from the Inauguration on his crystal-clear cell phone.
Hour 3. Ben Volin shares a stat about Trump that will blow your mind. Mut wouldn't answer any questions about Trump's alleged sexual assaults.
Old Friend Tim Benz joins OMF, and while they regale tales of dysfunction, Benz manages to predict that the Patriots will win Sunday.
Glenn, Lou, and Christian enjoy the festivities ahead of the Inauguration, and give their predictions for Patriots-Steelers in the AFC Championship Game.
Glenn, Lou, and Christian love how Bill Belichick reacts to the plethora of stupid questions he receives from the Media during his Press Conferences.
Dale, Michael and Rich Keefe spend the day discussing the AFC Championship.
We close out the work week with the best sound clips of the day.
We check in with hall of famer Michael Irvin to find out what happened to his Dallas Cowboys and look at the remaining playoff match-ups.
Kirk Minihane brings Chad Finn back to the show to talk about the Charlotte Wilder story about the relationship between the Pats and Trump. Chad defends Charlotte for some of the story and her previous articles, Kirk still has problems with what he thinks is lazy reporting. Kirk and Chad also talk about whether a third sports station in Boston would be viable and if Curt Schilling will ever make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Kirk Minihane has a loud and very confrontational argument with media personality John Ziegler about the guilt or innocence of Jerry Sandusky. Kirk believes him to be guilty, John believes beyond a shadow of a doubt that Sandusky is innocent. Yes, it may be an old case, but you all remember it and this episode may change your mind about some of the things you previously thought with regards to Penn State, Jerry Sandusky, and Joe Paterno.
Kirk Minihane wants to sit down with both sports editors at the major newspapers in Boston. Only Boston Herald sports editor Sean Leahy took Kirk up on the invitation to join the show. What you will hear is a great conversation between two people who are very interested in the newspaper business and how that business has changed over the years and what the future holds for newspapers. Kirk and Sean talk about the ongoing and longstanding rivalry between the Herald and Globe.
Uncle Buck, George from S**t Pats Fans Say, and Jerry Thornton talk about the Patriots history in the AFC Championship game, the big wins, the bad losses, and what it will take for the Pats to win another AFC Championship game.
Ken Laird and Chris Curtis wrap up the K&C week after a Friday show with Kirk, Mut and Ben Volin in studio.
Ken Laird and Chris Curtis recap the Thursday K&C show featuring Jon Meterparel back in the saddle.
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