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Joel Hanrahan: ‘This isn’t the easiest way to go into free agency’

11.07.13 at 9:12 am ET
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Joel Hanrahan wanted to watch, but only from afar.

The reliever ‘€“ who spent just more than a month as the Red Sox‘€™ closer before succumbing to season-ending arm surgeries ‘€“ reveled in his team’€™s World Series run, but did so while in the company of his friends and family at his Dallas-area home.

Sure, Hanrahan had been coming up to Boston once or twice a month to with the team’€™s medical staff throughout the course of the season. But this was different.

‘€œThe hardest part for me was I really wanted to come and be part of the playoffs, but I also didn’€™t want to look like, ‘€˜Oh, we’€™re in the playoffs and now he wants to be part of the celebration’€™ something like that,’€ he said. ‘€œMy focus is trying to get healthy and I didn’€™t want to take time away from the trainers who are trying to keep the guys on the field who are playing. I didn’€™t want to be in the way. It was tough for me, but it was a whole heck of a lot of fun watching at home and seeing the success they had.

‘€œTo be the first time I was ever in the playoffs, and to see them win the World Series, I was a big cheerleader. But it’€™s not how you envision your first playoff run or your first World Series championship. It was different being at home, sitting watching the games with my wife or my friends. But that’€™s just the hand I was dealt this year. It just makes me want to work harder to get a chance to get back to the playoffs.’€

Hanrahan’€™s world has been all about recovering from the flexor tendon surgery, Tommy John surgery, and bone spur removal in his pitching arm, all performed by Dr. James Andrews in May.

Working with the same physical therapist who helped Mike Napoli get through his physical issues last offseason ‘€“ along with Red Sox specialist Dan Dyrek — the righty feels like he is ahead of the scheduled 12-15-month layoff.

He has been throwing from 120 feet, and in about 1 ½ weeks there will be flat-ground throwing. If all keeps going well, Hanrahan hopes to have thrown a few bullpen sessions by the time spring training roles around.

Another benefit from the layoff has been an improved all-around conditioning, which has included strengthening of hamstrings which were an issue starting early in the 2013 season.

‘€œThe hamstrings aren’€™t a problem any more,’€ said Hanrahan, who had a piece of his hamstring taken out to serve as replacement for his elbow ligament. ‘€œSo I’€™ve had about 3 ½ months of my offseason workout and I still have three months of working out to go. I have plenty of time to make sure everything is good to go.’€

And in the last week, Hanrahan has entered into a new world ‘€“ he is the fifth Red Sox free agent.

Unlike Stephen Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Napoli, the reliever obviously wasn’€™t in the conversation regarding a possible qualifying offer. But, even with the physical limitations, he has still been afforded some attention from potential suitors.

‘€œWe’€™ve had a handful of teams call, which is a nice thing to see,’€ he said. ‘€œThis isn’€™t the easiest way to go into free agency. But we’€™ve had teams reach out. They’€™re calling at this point just to check in to see how I’€™m coming along in the rehab. My main focus is doing the rehab Monday through Friday, trying to get as healthy as I can because obviously no matter where I am I can’€™t help anybody out until I’€™m on the field playing. But the phone calls have been coming in, and that’€™s a positive.’€

Then there is the question of a return to the Red Sox.

Hanrahan pitched in just nine games with the Sox in ‘€™13, finishing six of them. But after that final outing, on May 6, it was what the organization provided that left the best impression on the 32-year-old.

‘€œThe Red Sox treated me very well for the time I was there,’€ he said. ‘€œThe check-ups I had with them, and the contact the training staff had with my therapist, were awesome. To see they cared that much about somebody who may or may not be back or wasn’€™t signed for a second year ‘€¦ To see them care that much was a great thing. We’€™ll just have to see what’€™s going to happen. I haven’€™t closed any books or opened any new ones. I’€™m just kind of out here waiting to see how everything plays out.’€

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