Red Sox

Bailey making up for lost time

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Bailey making up for lost time

TORONTO -- When he missed the first three-quarters of the season, only to return and find that his team was inexorably drifting out of playoff contention, it surely must have felt to Andrew Bailey that his first season in Boston was a lost one.

A freak collision and fall in spring training resulted in a torn ligament in his right thumb, a date with the surgeon in early April and many weeks and months of frustration.

Now, however, Bailey is intent on making up for lost time. No matter what he does, of course, he's not about to get the Red Sox back into the playoff chase. But by finishing strong in the final six weeks, he can salvage this year and set a foundation for 2013.

On Saturday, he closed out his second game in as many days, and his fourth since returning from the DL. In eight of his last nine outings and 11 of his 13 overall, he's unscored upon.

"I wish I had him all year, that's all I know,'' said Bobby Valentine of his closer. "His curveball's coming along. He's pitching with confidence. He's not afraid to challenge a hitter. It's good to see him. He's throwing the ball well.''

Indeed, for someone who didn't pitch in a major league game until mid-August this season, Bailey looks remarkably locked in.

"Definitely,'' agreed Bailey. "The rehab assignement was like spring training (all over) again. And it was nice the way that Bobby used me in the beginning -- one-third (of an inning) or two-thirds, kind of getting my feet wet. Looking back, that was pretty good. I feel pretty good now - no problems whatsoever and no issues across the board.''

In a sense, Bailey's return couldn't have been timed better. Alfredo Aceves, his replacement in the closer's role, was faltering as Bailey came back and a tantrum when he got passed over for a closing opportunity in favor of Bailey seemed to seal his fate.

Ever since, Bailey has handled the final three outs in the few games in which the Sox have led.

"Any inning you pitch, you have to have that (closer) mentality,'' he said. "The name of the game is scoring runs and we've got to put up zeroes. That's the mentality I have, no mattter what inning I pitch. But it's just nice to get back in those situations and have that adrenaline rush again and have the game on the line and the ball in your hand.''

Closing games has never been the issue for Bailey; staying healthy has been. He's spent time on the DL in each of the last four seasons. But when he's been able to pitch, he's been remarkably consistent: he's converted 79 of his 88 save chances in his major league career, a conversion rate of better than 90 percent.

"For me,'' he said, "injuries are terrible and very frustrating. But you have to keep on looking forward and realize that the day that you're active and helping the team win ballgames will come. That's what I'm doing know.

"It's going out there and getting as many innings as I can and getting my work in. I'm staying focused on this year, but also getting that work in for next year as well.''

Somewhat to his surprise, his curve -- a feel pitch which takes time to develop even under the best of circumstances -- has come around quicker than expected. Even his fastball, which he normally throws 92-94 mph, has a bit of extra zip.

None of that will help the Red Sox in the here and now. The Red Sox season itself was lost before Bailey could arrive to help. But wins like the ones he and they picked up Friday and Saturday go a little way in erasing the frustration.

Ron Gardenhire to interview with Red Sox Wednesday

Ron Gardenhire to interview with Red Sox Wednesday

BOSTON — Diamondbacks bench coach Ron Gardenhire's interview for Red Sox manager is scheduled for Wednesday, a baseball source told NBC Sports Boston. He'll be the third to interview for John Farrell's old job, following favorite Alex Cora on Sunday and Brad Ausmus on Monday — and may be the last to interview as well. 

The Sox could move quickly from here. Announcing hiring is tricky this time of year, because MLB doesn't want personnel moves to detract from the playoffs. 

But if Cora ends up the choice, as is most likely, his introduction is further complicated by the fact that his team, Houston, is still playing — and could be playing in the World Series.

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Cora, who would be a first-time manager unlike Ausmus and Gardenhire, is close with Red Sox second baseman and leader Dustin Pedroia and is drawing interest across the game.

Gardenhire would be something of a safe hiring, considering his 13 years as manager of the Minnesota Twins. A few days shy of his 60th birthday, Gardenhire would have to prove he could handle a vastly different market than Minnesota, and also connect with players despite being older than both Ausmus (48) and Cora (41). 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

E-Rod may be sidelined six months because of surgery; Ramirez has minor procedure

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E-Rod may be sidelined six months because of surgery; Ramirez has minor procedure

BOSTON — Maybe now there's more reason to think Hanley Ramirez can have a rebound season in 2018. Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, meanwhile, will be recovering from knee surgery and is expected to miss the start of the season.

Ramirez and Rodriguez both went to the operating table Tuesday. Ramirez, the designated hitter and first baseman who turns 34 in December, had left shoulder surgery — an announcement he made on Twitter with a picture of himself at the hospital. 

Ramirez's surgery is considered relatively minor.

Rodriguez's right knee ligament reconstruction surgery, however, has a recovery time of six months, which means that's roughly when the Sox expect him back in the majors. But the timetable is imprecise, and either way, the Sox' starting pitching depth may have to be addressed in the offseason. 

Rodriguez, who turns 25 in April, has had been bothered by the right knee for most of the past two seasons. He missed about six weeks this season after dislocating his knee and missed the start of the 2016 season after injuring the knee in spring training.  Rodriguez was 6-7 with a 4.19 ERA last season and is 19-20, 4.23 in 25 career appearances, 24 starts in three seasons for Boston. 

Here's what the Red Sox said in a release about the two surgeries:

HANLEY RAMIREZ AND EDUARDO RODRIGUEZ UNDERGO SUCCESSFUL SURGERIES

BOSTON, MA – First baseman/designated hitter Hanley Ramirez and left-handed pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez underwent successful surgeries today.

Ramirez underwent a left shoulder arthroscopy and debridement. The procedure was performed by Dr. James Andrews at the Andrews Institute in Pensacola, FL. Ramirez is expected to be ready for the 2018 season.

Rodriguez underwent a right knee patellofemoral ligament reconstruction. The procedure was also performed by Dr. Andrews at the Andrews Institute in Pensacola. Rodriguez is expected to return to pitching in approximately six months.

 

Ramirez was bothered by both shoulders in 2017, limiting his performance at the plate and also his time at first base. He had a .750 OPS in the regular season after posting an .866 figure a year earlier. He was productive in the Sox' Division Series loss to the Astros, going 8-for-14.