Bailey says demotion is 'not an issue'

The SportsXchange

Disappointed? Sure, that's an accurate description of Andrew Bailey's sentiments after being removed from his role as theBoston Red Sox closer in the wake of the recent trade for Joel Hanrahan.

But Bailey isn't dwelling on it.

"It's not an issue," Bailey told the Boston Herald. "Obviously throwing the ninth inning is what everyone wants to do. But mentality-wise, nothing changes for me. You still have to go out and do your job and make it as efficient as possible. If me and Joel and the rest of our bullpen are doing the job that it looks like we're going to do, we're going to have a winning team next year."

Before the completion of the six-player trade that sent Hanrahan from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Red Sox, Bailey received a phone call from manager John Farrell, who made it clear that Hanrahan will be his first choice to pitch the ninth inning. Although Bailey, like Hanrahan, is a two-time All-Star closer, he will be relegated to setup duty for the first time since breaking into the majors with Oakland in 2009 and being crowned as AL Rookie of the Year.

So far, Bailey is sounding all the right chords, noting that games are often won in the seventh and eighth innings by pitchers who aren't denoted as closers. The Red Sox need not be reminded of Daniel Bard's value as the setup man for Jonathan Papelbon in 2010 and '11.

"I think games can be impacted earlier on in the game, and I'm not all about the notoriety and all that stuff," Bailey told the Herald. "Throwing the ninth inning, it's great. I just think (GM Ben Cherington) saw an opportunity to jump on a piece to make our team better. With the addition of Hanrahan, it makes us that much stronger down there. It's awesome."

Still, it amounts to a demotion for Bailey, acquired in a trade last winter to replace Papelbon, who departed via free agency. But Bailey endured an injury-filled Red Sox debut, tearing a ligament in his right thumb on a freak play during the final week of spring training and undergoing surgery on the eve of Opening Day. He didn't make his first appearance for the Sox until Aug. 14, and although he quickly reclaimed the closer role from fill-in Alfredo Aceves and went 5-for-6 in save chances with a 3.09 ERA through his first 14 outings, a pair of blown saves against the Rays and Yankees in the season's final 12 days hiked his ERA to 7.04 and apparently cast doubt among team decision makers of his ability to dominate the ninth inning.

But Bailey said it hasn't changed his goal for 2013: Staying healthy and helping the Red Sox turn around their fortunes after last year's 93-loss nightmare.

"I always put goals on saves and ERA, and I think this year, it's just staying healthy," Bailey said. "If I'm staying healthy, I know I can do my job, and that's not a problem."
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