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Ben Cherington talks Andrew Bailey, Daniel Bard and the Red Sox’ right field situation

12.28.11 at 7:03 pm ET
By

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington (AP)

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington spoke via a conference call regarding his team’s trade of Josh Reddick, Raul Alcantara, and Miles Head to Oakland for Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney. The following is a transcript of the conversation:

(What does this acquisition mean for Daniel Bard?)

Bard will prepare for spring training as a starter, as you guys know. We want to give him every chance to do that. We just want to see how things go in spring training. Ultimately Bobby and Bob McClure will help us make that decision. When we talk to Daniel about preparing for spring training as a starter we did it with the intent of helping him succeed in that role. That’s still our intent. We do believe he can do it, but we’ll see how things go in spring training.

(What the Red Sox liked about Bailey)

Andrew is a proven, top-quality closer in the American League. He’s done it for three years in the American League, and saw a lot of success. He’s converted a very high percentage of his opportunities. He’s got good stuff. We really like his make-up for Boston and everything we’ve learned about him over the past few weeks as we’ve been working on this only strengthened our conviction that he can fit really well into our team and in our clubhouse. As we were looking to upgrade our pitching staff, we were looking at all sorts of things, starters, relievers, we found a trade we liked with Houston a while back for Melancon and we found one we liked this time around for Bailey, and also Ryan Sweeney.

(Any concern about Bailey’s medical history?)

We had a chance to look into Bailey’s medical history and get to know a lot more of what he went through. He had Tommy John surgery about five years ago and he’s fully recovered from that. He had some elbow symptoms in 2010 and had a relatively minor procedure after the 2010 season. He then came to spring training in 2011 and perhaps ramped up too quickly and had a little bit of a setback and appeared to be some scar tissue breakup and some minor soft tissue injury. This past spring training he was able to recover from that, get back to pitching and perform well. His stuff and his performance were solid down the stretch and he was systematic for the rest of the season after he came back. We are very confident he’ll come into camp ready to go and ready to help our team in 2012.

(How the Red Sox will approach right field)

Ryan Sweeney we expect to be a big part of our outfield mix. He can play right field. He’s a good defender. His versatility is kind of like Reddick, really, both of them can play both outfield spots and play them well. Sweeney has played in a big ballpark in Oakland and handled the defensive part of the game well. We also really like his offensive approach to Fenway. He’s got an opposite field approach. He’s a guy we tried to acquire in the past, and think he fits well with our team. So he’ll be a big part of our outfield mix. We still have Darnell McDonald on our roster, who has done a good job for us in the past and has hit left-handed pitching. Mike Aviles we sent to Puerto Rico not too long ago to get some experience in the outfield. We got good reports on him when he was in Puerto Rico. Obviously we like him as a hitter and as an offensive player. We think we have some internal solutions for right field and Sweeney is a big part of that

(Any concerns from when Bailey was beaned in the head last season)

No. We had that fully checked, and he came back from that and passed all his tests. That was part of the medical review that we did today as we finished up today. No concerns on that moving forward.

(If Mark Melancon still has a chance to close)

I think ultimately it will fall on Bobby and also our pitching coach, Bob McClure. We believe both are fully capable of doing it. Bailey’s been doing it for a little bit longer, so perhaps he goes in with the leg up. But we’ll leave those decisions to Bobby and Bob McClure for spring training.

(On if this will alter the Red Sox approach to the starting pitching market)

To some degree. I think that the starters that we’ve considered and talked about, and in some cases pursued, are a pretty broad range of pitching options. We’ve just felt, to this point, that the deals that we liked the best on the trade front were the Melancon deal and now this deal. We’re going to continue to work. We’re actively considering and looking at starting pitching options also, but we haven’t found one yet where we feel like the acquisition cost is the right one. That doesn’t mean that it won’t come. It just hasn’t come yet.

I do think our situation has been one where we can afford to be a little bit patient in the starting pitching market because of what we have at the front of the rotation. If we can find ways to build depth in the rotation, we will. We don’t feel like we’re forced into doing that. With what we have at the front of the rotation, and with Bard and [Alfredo] Aceves both coming to camp as starters and giving us options there, along with Andrew Miller and [Felix] Doubront and others who will be in camp showcasing their abilities as starters.

(On the evolution of talks with Oakland)

We’ve had a lot of conversations with Oakland, so we had a good sense of who they valued in our organization. Certainly, Reddick was one of those guys. And so, once we got into the offseason, we felt like there was a match with Oakland on something. They were one of the teams we talked to a lot in the offseason. But it probably helped jumpstart that back in July just because we had a lot of dialogue about our players back then.

(What they see in regards to Bailey’s make-up)

Part of it certainly is watching him perform and pitching in the ninth inning in American league games. Watching him in that role, you can’t succeed in that role unless you have some things figured out and are confident and have the ability to bounce back off a bad outing and all the things that closers need to do. But then, over the course of the past several weeks, as we’ve discussed this potential deal with Oakland, we’ve done our due diligence just like every team does and have tried to talk to people that have been around Andrew in the past and we’ve had a chance to do that. We just feel confident that he’s going to fit in well in our clubhouse and on our team but on the field as well and he’ll have no problem helping us win important games at the end of the game.

(On how far the Red Sox’ interest in Bailey dated back to)

It really started even back in the summer when we were looking at bullpen options. There was some internal dialogue about bailey and we talked more after the season. He’s a guy we’ve seen a lot over time. It appeared Oakland would make him available this offseason based on the things they were doing. We had a pretty consistent conversation with Oakland for several weeks now and it kind of ebbed and flowed and we finally got to the deal today.

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