Sox Closer Andrew Bailey Expects Return Before the Season Ends

Red Sox closer Bailey eager to return post surgery

By JIMMY GOLEN
AP Sports Writer
      BOSTON (AP) – Would-be Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey said he is
“fairly confident” he will be back by the end of the season after
surgery to repair a ligament in his right thumb.

      Bailey had surgery on Wednesday to repair a torn ulnar
collateral ligament and said he expected to return and help out the
beleaguered bullpen before the season is out.

      “The whole season isn't lost. There's a lot of good in that,”
Bailey said Friday during a conference call. “It's still very
frustrating to have to start the year like this.”

      Bailey was injured while covering first base in a March 21
spring training game against Pittsburgh. He tried to pitch through
it, but “it got worse and worse,” he said.

      Bailey will spend the next 10-14 days in a soft cast before he
can begin rehabbing. Meanwhile, the Red Sox are looking for a
closer to replace Bailey. He was acquired to replace Jonathan
Papelbon, who saved 219 games and posted a 2.33 ERA during seven
years in Boston.

      Papelbon, who got the last out of their 2007 World Series sweep
of Colorado, left as a free agent in the offseason, taking a $50
million, four-year deal from Philadelphia to be its closer.

      The Red Sox acquired Bailey in a trade with Oakland over the
offseason. But his injury troubles, which put him on the disabled
list in each of the previous two seasons, quickly resurfaced. He
strained a lat muscle in his entrance physical and missed the early
part of spring training before returning to pitch in six games.
      The latest injury was bad luck.

      “It's just a freak thing,” he said. “It's not really a
throwing injury. It's trying to be an athlete and cover first
base.”

      With Bailey out at least until the All-Star break, the Red Sox
are hoping to find a closer from within. Alfredo Aceves and Mark
Melancon are possibilities, but the pair of ex-Yankees already
failed once.

      The Red Sox rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie the opener against
Detroit on Thursday, but the Tigers got back-to-back, one-out
singles against Melancon. Aceves hit Ramon Santiago on the foot to
load the bases before Austin Jackson singled past a drawn-in
infield.

      Bailey said the Boston bullpen is strong without him.

      “There's a lot of good arms down there. Those guys are going to
have a good year. I'm hoping to join them soon,” he said. “It'll
figure itself out. The bullpen is going to be fine; I know that.
They'll be able to hold it down until I'm able to get back and help
them out.”
     

     
      (Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)