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January 9, 2013

With Hanrahan in the mix, don't forget about Bailey

(Continued)

Hanrahan spoke with ex-Oakland pitcher Brandon McCarthy about Bailey, who came to Red Sox from the Athletics.

“He said (Bailey) is a great guy and he thinks we’ll get along great,” Hanrahan said.

“All you can do is root for each other to have success and pull for the team. That’s what we’re going to do, I believe. (Bailey) was in a tough spot. Any time you injure your hand in spring training, that’s not fun, especially coming over to a new team. So I’m sure he’s got a lot to prove this year.”

Having two legitimate closers gives the Red Sox options. Bailey provides a reliable alternative on days when Hanrahan needs rest. Secondly, if Hanrahan struggles a lot or even suffers an injury himself, Farrell could insert Bailey, who saved 75 games from 2009-11, into the closer role.

Bailey still has the potential to be an effective big league closer. The 28-year-old has a terrific, upbeat personality so he undoubtedly will enter spring training with a positive attitude after being demoted even if he truly is upset.

He knows he has to prove he can remain healthy and be an effective late-inning reliever who still has the stuff to close games.

Closers make significant more money than even the best setup man.

For that reason alone Bailey should be motivated to pitch well — to regain his former role.

Don’t get too down on Bailey. If he stays healthy — which admittedly has been a big question mark — there is no reason to believe he won’t thrive no matter what role he fills this year because he still has effective pitches.

Last year, when he did pitch, his fastball averaged 94.3 mph compared to an average of 94.0 throughout his career, according to fangraphs.com. Also featuring a change-up and cutter, Bailey struggled with some location issues in a few of his outings in September, which blew up his ERA, WHIP and stat lines.

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