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Closer rehab club: Aardsma, Francisco, Bailey on the mend

Andy Behrens
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So I've put myself in an unenviable fantasy situation in which I need Seattle closer David Aardsma to return from the DL soon, and I need him to pitch like the 2009 version of himself (38 SV, 2.52 ERA, 10.1 K/9). Is that really too much to ask?

Well, yeah, it's probably way too much to ask, by perhaps 10-12 saves and at least one earned run per nine innings. But that's what I need at this point, since the Own-Matt-Thornton-In-Every-League plan didn't quite work out.

So: Aardsma. He's recovering from hip surgery, scheduled to make a rehab appearance for Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday. This will be the first of 3-4 minor league innings for the 29-year-old. If things go relatively well — and why wouldn't they? — Aardsma could rejoin the Mariners next week. He's expected to return quickly to the closer's role. Aardsma is actually available in 42 percent of Yahoo! leagues at the moment, despite the DL eligibility. Don't just let him sit out there unowned.

(Related: Chris Liss has been trying to extract a closer's price for Brandon League via trade in the F&F League, which is, I suppose, what you have to do. But it still feels a little insulting).

Elsewhere, Toronto activated Frank Francisco (pectoral) from the disabled list on Tuesday, so you've only got a few more hours to hide him on your fantasy DL. He's only 49 percent owned, so public leaguers might still be able to find him in the free agent pool. Francisco's final three rehab appearances (3.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 5 Ks) went much better than his first two (1.2 IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 2 HR, 3 BB, K), so he appears to be ready. We don't yet know, however, when FF will get closing duties for the Jays. This from

In Spring Training, Farrell announced that Francisco was the Blue Jays' closer. During the veteran reliever's absence, though, Jon Rauch is 3-for-3 in save opportunities, including a perfect inning against the Red Sox on Friday night.

There is no immediate guarantee the job will immediately go back to Francisco upon his return.

"We're not going to not acknowledge what Jon has done," Farrell said. "That was as crisp of an inning the other night when he came into the ninth that you'd ever want to see. Frankie coming back will give us options."

Francisco figures to take back the ninth at some point soon, but Rauch may poach another save or two.

Oakland's Andrew Bailey threw a 20-pitch bullpen session on Monday, reportedly at 75 percent exertion. "The good news is it looked free and easy," said Bob Geren. The plan is for Bailey to take a day off before tossing another bullpen, and then perhaps they'll talk rehab assignment. The propaganda from Oakland still suggests that Bailey could return by the end of April, but May seems much more likely. You'll recall that when the A's closer was originally injured this spring, it looked ugly, like a potential season-ender. In a way, it's amazing that we're already talking timeline.

One final closing note here: If/when the Cardinals make a move, they'll be looking at internal options. Which of course we all assumed already. This from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

"From a front-office standpoint, you have to provide the manager and the coaching staff tools," general manager John Mozeliak said. "Right now, (Franklin) is going through some tough times and we've got to figure out a way to work through it. There's not a whole lot you can do. Either he has more success, or somebody else gets the opportunity." Mozeliak allowed that "all the options are internal."

Mitchell Boggs is presumably the first or second of those options, and he's been lights-out lately. But he's only 27 years old, an infant in Tony La Russa's eyes, at least a decade too young to close, apparently. Thus, Miguel Batista's name keeps reappearing. Let's hope the Cards don't go that route.


Photo via US Presswire

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