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Red Sox ready to discuss closer change after Bailey’s latest blown save

06.20.13 at 11:19 pm ET
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Red Sox manager John Farrell, in the aftermath of a 4-3 walkoff loss that saw Andrew Bailey spit up a 3-2 advantage in the span of two batters (five-pitch walk, and a two-run homer by Jhonny Peralta), acknowledged that it is time to contemplate potential ninth-inning alternatives to Bailey. The right-hander has now blown back-to-back save opportunities and three of his last five save chances while giving up homers in four of his last five contests.

That being the case, Farrell acknowledged that it is time to consider using Bailey in something other than save situations to try to straighten him out while identifying someone else to close, at least for the immediate term.

“Yeah, I think so,” Farrell told reporters in Detroit when asked if it might be time to shift ninth-inning responsibilities to someone else. “Whether that’€™s backing him out of that to get him some work to get on track a little bit more, what the internal options are and out of fairness to Andrew and others down there late in the game, we’€™ll talk more about that internally to make a potential change.”

Bailey’s fastball has been at the heart of his struggles. At the beginning of the year, it was a dominant pitch, averaging 94.7 mph in April with 29.9 percent of them getting swings and misses. Since he went on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis, however, he’s averaged 93.2 mph with his fastball while getting swings and misses at just a 12.3 percent rate. In his most recent two appearances, he’d given up homers to lefties while leaving 1-0 fastballs over the plate. 

On Thursday, he threw all fastballs low and away to Martinez and missed the zone with four of them to issue a leadoff walk. He then appeared to shy from the pitch against Peralta, missing the strike zone (up and in) with the only fastball he threw and otherwise relying on his cutter.

‘€œThe velocity hasn’€™t come back to where it was pre-the DL stint,” Farrell told reporters. “There’€™s work being done, through long-toss program, through the work that he does with the strength and medical staff here. He doesn’€™t talk of any inflammation or any kind of uncomfortable feeling in the shoulder. And yet the results are what they are.’€

Now, it appears likely that Bailey will work to regain his fastball in a role other than the one that he assumed from Joel Hanrahan in April. While Bailey expressed a mix of frustration with his poor recent performances and confidence that he is capable of reversing his struggles, he suggested that he will accept whatever role Farrell chooses for him.

“I’€™m just not being myself out there. I’€™ve got to pitch better,” Bailey told reporters. “I didn’€™t challenge the first batter of the inning. Maybe I was picking too much. I’€™ve got to get back to challenging guys. Clearly, what I’€™m doing right now isn’€™t working, so I’€™ve got to start getting ahead of guys.

“I haven’€™t talked to [Farrell] about [a potential role change], but if he feels that need is necessary, that’€™s his decision,” Bailey added. “I’€™ve got to go out there and get people out. That’€™s the bottom line. Whatever situation he wants that in is his call. I’€™ve had success in this league. I know how to get people out. I’€™ve just got to get back to doing it.”

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