|Red Sox hope Andrew Bailey can stabilize bullpen||08.14.12 at 9:35 am ET|
Andrew Bailey has 75 career saves. Craig Breslow has been his teammate for 74 of them.
Breslow joined the Athletics in May 2009, right around the time that Bailey emerged as Oakland’s closer as a rookie who had skipped Triple-A. The two were teammates with the A’s through 2011, before Oakland traded Bailey to the Red Sox and Breslow to the Diamondbacks last offseason. Now, the two have been reunited with the Red Sox.
Bailey, after a six-outing rehab assignment, is expected to be activated from the DL by the Sox for Tuesday night’s game against the Orioles. Breslow was acquired by the Sox from Arizona at the trade deadline.
Based on their shared history, Breslow is elated about what Bailey might be able to contribute to the Boston bullpen. At a time when the Sox’ relief corps has been depleted by injuries (Scott Atchison, Vicente Padilla, Rich Hill), and when others such as Alfredo Aceves and Andrew Miller have struggled at times, Breslow believes that Bailey represents an important reinforcement for a relief group that has a 4.88 ERA since the All-Star break.
“Incredible,” Breslow said of Bailey’s potential impact. “Unfortunately, it happens too often where getting guys back from the DL are your trade deadline acquisitions. But getting a guy like Andrew healthy is better than any reliever we can go out and trade for — obviously, aside from myself,” he grinned.
“He’s been a closer. He thrives in pressure situations. And I think he’s a guy who will elevate his performance on a big stage. Beyond that, he’s a competitor, a gamer, a guy that you trust in any situation when he’s out there with the game on the line,” he continued. “Because of injuries, it seems kind of like the bullpen here has been in some flux. When he’s healthy, he can be stabilizing for us.”
While it would be natural to return Bailey gradually to a late-innings role based on the fact that he’s missed more than four months, his history suggests that there might be little need to wait to give him a meaningful role. After all, Bailey managed to take possession of the closer’s role in Oakland roughly one month into his big league career, taking to the end of the game like a proverbial fish to water.
“His stuff was apparent. He threw hard. He threw strikes. He had a devastating cut fastball. And for such a young guy who was thrust into the big leagues out of Double-A, he was fearless,” recalled Breslow. “He seemed to thrive in the competition of late-inning situations. It was pretty neat as an outsider to watch his maturation. There weren’t really too many times you had to watch growing pains or anything like that.”
Now, the Sox will hope for a similarly sudden impact down the stretch.
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