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John Farrell: ‘A little premature’ to say if Andrew Bailey or Joel Hanrahan will close

04.22.13 at 5:39 pm ET

On Monday, Andrew Bailey was recognized as American League Co-Player of the Week (along with teammate Mike Napoli) for going 1-0 with three saves, one walk and eight strikeouts (while permitting one run) in five innings spanning five appearances during the stretch of April 15-21. His fine performance raises an obvious question: What happens when Joel Hanrahan is back?

Hanrahan, of course, is 0-1 with an 11.57 ERA after allowing 11 baserunners (6 hits, 5 walks) in 4 2/3 innings with three saves. He entered the year as the closer. But with Bailey putting up eye-opening numbers in the early-going — 15 strikeouts and three walks in 9 1/3 innings with a 1.93 ERA — there’s been stability and clear role definition in Hanrahan’s absence.

However, Hanrahan’s struggles coincided with a sore hamstring that forced him onto the 15-day disabled list. On Monday, Hanrahan — who is eligible to come off the D.L. next Monday, April 29, — threw his first bullpen session since the injury, a 30-pitch bullpen session, followed by some change-of-direction running drills meant to test the hamstring. He’ll throw another bullpen session on Wednesday before a one- or two-game rehab assignment next weekend.

He expressed optimism about what might come of pitching healthy.

“I would think having two good legs under me is going to help out things and get back to normal,” said Hanrahan.

“There’s no question that the leg had an effect on the consistency of the strike zone,” agreed Sox manager John Farrell. “It’s going to disrupt his focus on pitch to pitch. Some of the things he’s working on are hopefully going to take some of the stress off that back leg. He uses a pretty pronounced drop and drive approach, not that we’re looking to revamp his delivery, but to adjust and take some of the pressure off that hamstring.”

But if Hanrahan is healthy, will he once again be the pitcher entrusted with ninth-inning responsibilities? Farrell suggested it was not an appropriate time to answer that inquiry.

“I think we’ll get through the rehab assignments and get [Hanrahan] back here before we address that,” he said. “I think it’s probably a little bit premature to state anything along those lines.”

But until there is an answer, there may be a question over a Red Sox bullpen that features a pair of two-time All-Star closers.


— Farrell said that Bailey will only be used for single-inning outings.

“I think it fits his style. He’s a max-effort, high-energy pitcher,” said Farrell. “To ask him to carry that over — because when he comes out of the bullpen, he’s channeling that adrenaline. A lot of times you see those relievers, when they come in between innings, they sit down and it’s hard to gear back up and maintain that over a 35-pitch outing. He’s had a lot of success as a one-inning reliever. We don’t want to take away from that.”

— With Will Middlebrooks (4-for-43 since April 7), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (4-for-28 in his last nine games) and Stephen Drew (3-for-30) all struggling, Farrell was asked about separating those players — particularly Middlebrooks and Drew — rather than keeping them bunched at the bottom of the order.

“We know we’ve got some aggressive hitters who have made some quick outs, but we’re not looking to revamp the lineup or the roster in any way,” said Farrell.

Farrell suggested that, while the results have been poor for Drew thus far, his approach is one that is conducive to a turnaround.

“I just think it’s a matter of at-bats with Stephen before things begin to click for him, because it’s not a flaw in the swing or anything like that. It’s just a matter of building consistent timing and starting to build some confidence on his end.”

— Left-hander Andrew Miller suffered the loss in Game 2 of Sunday’s doubleheader, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out two in an inning of work. He’s now walked six of the 22 batters he’s faced this year and hit another. Farrell suggested that irregular work has made it hard for the left-hander to have consistent mechanics, contributing to his control issues.

“There’s a lot to contend with there. You’re talking about a guy with long limbs. Timing [of his delivery] is critical,” said Farrell. “With the exception of the game against Tampa, he’s come in kind of with his back against the wall, whereas in spring training, it’s go and get your work in. So the more frequency we can bring him in, if we’ve got a game where there’s some room to maybe keep the consistency of appearances, that’s what he needs. He’ll get a little side to side. That’s when you see him miss with some pitches to the arm side or he’ll yank some balls down and in to righties. There’s no denying the stuff. He just needs more regular work.”

Franklin Morales, whose rehab start in Double-A Portland was slated for Wednesday, had that timetable further delayed by a strained pectoral muscle.

— Left-hander Craig Breslow will pitch in Portland on Tuesday and then pitch in another rehab outing on Saturday, with the delay a product of the travel schedules of the New England-based Red Sox farm teams.

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