A closer in baseball is one of the most important positions on the entire roster. For the Red Sox, last year was a year in which they really did not have one as Andrew Bailey missed virtually the entire season with a right thumb injury. This year could offer a much different story.
The Red Sox, knowing how important the closer position is, went out and traded for All-Star Joel Hanrahan last December. The 31-year-old has been an All-Star with the Pirates the past two seasons finishing with 40 and 36 saves, respectively.
“I’ve always thought playing in Boston would be fun and seeing what the biggest rivalry in baseball is all about,” Hanrahan said on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning.
Hanrahan is a hard-thrower, featuring just two pitches – a four-seam fastball ranging between 95-99 MPH and a slider, with his fastball being his primary pitch.
With Hanrahan as the closer, the Red Sox have the potential for a dynamic setup tandem of Bailey and Daniel Bard, assuming Bard returns to his 2011 form. The bullpen should be one of the team’s biggest strengths, which Hanrahan acknowledged.
This will be the right-hander’s first season in the American League, as his past six seasons have came with the Nationals and Pirates. Closing in the AL East will obviously be a much greater challenge than what he got in Washington and Pittsburgh.
“People always say that Pittsburgh is a small market team and he’s going to be terrible and you never get that kind of pressure, but I was thinking about that the other day,” Hanrahan said. “In 2011 he Red Sox came in and it was a packed house and I got two saves … I’m not worried about the pressure; I don’t add pressure to myself.”
Alfredo Aceves’ bizarre behavior from the tail-end of the 2012 season has carried over to 2013. Aceves was reportedly throwing lob balls in live batting practice when he should have been working on his normal stuff, using the velocity typical of a major league pitcher. Despite several inquiries by coaches about his behavior, Aceves continued to throw slow.
“The one thing I’ll say about that is that he didn’t go through the drill as intended and we’ve addressed it,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “He’s healthy and it’s been addressed.” – Matt Burke
Boston will begin its spring training slate this Thursday with games against Northeastern and Boston College. Scheduled to pitch against the Huskies are: Hanrahan (start), Daniel Bard, Andrew Miller, Alex Wilson, Clayton Mortensen, Pedro Beato, Anthony Carter, and Chris Carpenter.
Facing the Eagles will be: Koji Uehara (start), Andrew Bailey, Oscar Villarreal, Terry Doyle, Jose De La Torre, and Junichi Tazawa.