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John Farrell on Joel Hanrahan: ‘No move is going to be made’

04.13.13 at 5:55 pm ET
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Closer Joel Hanrahan got pulled mid-inning for the second straight outing. (AP)

While the Red Sox enjoyed their first walkoff victory of the season, a 2-1, 10-inning win over the Rays, the win came with some questions, particularly about closer Joel Hanrahan‘s place in the bullpen pecking order. Hanrahan entered the game and unleashed five straight balls, ultimately walking the first two hitters of the ninth inning (Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist). With the game tied at 1-1 and the go-ahead run on second and no outs, manager John Farrell made the move to pull Hanrahan — his titular closer — in favor or Koji Uehara.

Though Uehara escaped the jam with a strikeout and a pair of pop-ups, thus giving the Sox a chance to win, questions about Hanrahan’s job definition were inevitable after he got pulled mid-inning with the game on the line. However, Farrell said that while Hanrahan is struggling, he had no plans as of Saturday afternoon to declare that the closer’s job had been handed off.

“No move is going to be made. That’s a situation that the closer comes in, tie game at home, but after the two leadoff walks, we felt like we had someone behind him with Koji. Right now, Joel is going through a little bit of a spell where things aren’t clicking for him, but we’re still with him,” said Farrell. “We’ve got a guy who picked him up today in Koji who did one heck of a job to shut off that threat in the ninth.”

Farrell suggested that the issue does not appear to be one of Hanrahan’s delivery. Instead, he noted that he missed his spot while trying to locate down and away to the right-handed Longoria.

“I thought he regrouped a little bit after the first ball to go 1-0 to Zobrist, but he got back in the count and it looked like he was on his way in that situation, but after the 3-2 base on balls, I felt like it was time to make a move right there. He’s pitching in some tight spots, and I know that’s the life of a closer, but at that point, it was time to make a move,” said Farrell. “Today it looked like he was pitching a little bit careful, and totally understandable.”

Asked whether consideration was being given to the question of whether Hanrahan might benefit in regaining his form on the mound by pitching in something other than the ninth inning of save situations, Farrell reiterated, “Because we are just minutes out of the game, I have yet to talk to Joel, we’re not going to deviate from [his current role] at this moment.”

For his part, Hanrahan said that he had no qualms with Farrell’s decision to replace him.

“I didn’t throw any strikes. There’s not really much to talk about besides I didn’t throw any strikes,” he said. “If you look at the game before and today’s game, you can’t just give the guy free passes in a tie game. That’s how it is. Got to do what we can to give ourselves a chance to win and it worked out.”

Hanrahan has struggled out of the gate before. His 5.59 ERA in April is his worst of any month. His 5.4 walks per nine innings in April are likewise considerably higher than the 3.0 walks per nine he’s permitted from May through July (though in line with the 5.7 walks per nine he’s allowed in August and September). So, the two-time All-Star is accustomed to making early-season fixes in order to achieve dominance. And he insists that, right now, he has identified the issues that will permit him to do that once again.

“I’m fighting some things with my mechanics and my legs, and it’s just something that I got to work on. I guess I’m more of a warm-weather guy, I don’t know, but you know it’s just something that we got to fight through,” said Hanrahan. “It’s something that [pitching coach Juan Nieves] did point out but it’s kind of obvious. If you look at where I’m missing the whole time, something’s not right and we got to fix it.

“Obviously it’s not the way I wanted it to go. But we’re still winning games so that’s what’s important. Our bullpen, the guys picked me up today and that’s what makes a good bullpen,” he added. “I hope it’s going to be pretty easy [to address]. I think Juan’s kind of pinpointed out, and it’s just finding the time to go out there and fix it.”

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