Although we are still in March, some Red Sox fans were getting concerned with closer Joel Hanrahan, who entering the weekend had given up at least one run in all four of his appearances. Hanrahan responded Saturday night by having his best outing of the spring.
The 31-year-old right-hander pitched a 1-2-3 fifth inning with two strikeouts in the Red Sox’ 5-2 loss to the Orioles. Hanrahan was very pleased with the way the outing went.
"It's always nice to have a clean inning,” he said. “It is Spring Training and we're still working on things, but to be able to go out there, especially after the last two outings where I didn't finish my inning, just to be able to finish my inning was pretty exciting."
Hanrahan is the backend of what was built to be one of the biggest strengths of the team this season. The Sox struggled last season without a designated closer as Andrew Bailey missed the majority of the season due to thumb surgery. Before last year the team had six seasons of their closer having at least 31 saves with Jonathan Papelbon shutting the door. The newly acquired right-hander in Hanrahan has been a full-time closer for just two seasons, finishing with 40 and 36 saves in each of the last two seasons with the Pirates.
Everyone in baseball knows how valuable having a good closer is, so Saturday night’s performance was a welcomed sign.
Hanrahan will now fly back to Boston to be with his wife as they are expecting their first child. He will return to the team later in the week.
Opening Day in jeopardy for Ortiz
As each day goes by it seems the chances that David Ortiz will be ready for Opening Day are getting slimmer and slimmer. Ortiz had MRIs on both of his heels on Saturday and due to inflammation in the bony area of his right heel, he will be shut down for five-to-seven days.
Red Sox manager John Farrell told ESPNBoston.com that it is "highly unlikely" that Ortiz will be ready by the April 1 opener.
Follow Metro Boston Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @Hannable84