Andrew Bailey’s Red Sox debut probably wasn’t what he had chalked up in his head. Boston’s prized off-season acquisition’s debut was delayed a couple of weeks due to a lat strain he suffered in the first week of the spring. Bailey showed some rust Monday, as he gave up a run on 3 consecutive hits. Also his fastball was down a couple mph, but that is common for pitchers this early in the spring, as they have yet to regain all of their arm strength.
Bailey did do a good job of settling down after giving up the run, retiring the rest of the batters he faced. Andrew had this to say after his outing. “Obviously, I had some things to work on. That’s why we start in spring training. But for me, you never want to give up runs no matter when you pitch.”
One of Bailey’s main focuses of the spring is finding a rhythm with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The two seemed to have found that rhythm after the first three batters of the inning reached base. “I think that was the biggest thing –– the communication between me and him,” Bailey said. “It’s good that game came down to runners on base. Not every outing is going to be clean. Guys are going to get on base. It was good to be able to work together.”
Bailey inevitably will draw constant comparisons to Boston’s former closer Jonathan Papelbon. Red Sox fans should look at Bailey’s body of work over the past couple of years before calling him a downgrade. Andrew Bailey has saved 75 games from 2009-2011. He also has 13 multi inning saves during that time. He has a lifetime era of 2.07, is a 2 time all star, and the AL rookie of the year in 2009. Bailey is familiar with Papelbon’s success and popularity in Boston and had this to say when asked about filling the former Sox shoes. “I know what he did here. I know he’s the all-time saves leader here. For me, in my eyes, this is a new opportunity to further my career.”
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was happy to just see Bailey throw a pain free inning. Valentine had this to say after the game, “That’s a big step for him. That’s good. I’d rather have him strike everyone out and miss all the bats but bats happened to find the ball a couple of times today.”
The one major concern Red Sox fans should have about Bailey is his health. He missed 16.9% of his games as an Athletic. If, and that’s a huge if, he can remain healthy he will be amongst the AL’s elite closers.
Look for Bailey to rebound nicely in his next 7 or 8 spring training outings and come into the regular season 100% healthy.