Rehab-Bailey-tation: On the mend, closer returns to clubhouse

Jan-Christian Sorensen
Contributing Writer

Oft-injured Red Sox right hander Andrew Bailey is back in the BoSox house for the current nine-game home stand at Fenway.

Bailey, who underwent season-ending surgery in July to repair a torn capsule and labrum in his throwing shoulder and likely won’t return to the Boston bullpen until July 2014, put in an appearance at Fenway on Tuesday as the Sox kicked off a three-game set against the Orioles.

“It’ll be good to be around the game again, be around the guys and just get me out of the house,” Bailey told WEEI’s Tim Healey.

Five weeks removed from the successful surgery — which also included a procedure to repair damage to his rotator cuff — the 29-year-old is now undergoing rehab therapy to regain his range of motion. 

Bailey, who came to the Sox from Oakland in the 2011 offseason alongside Ryan Sweeney in the Josh Reddick trade, was lights-out for the Athletics to begin his career, posting a 2.07 ERA in 133 appearances over three seasons, saving 75 games while striking out 174 in 174 innings.

In Boston, however, he hasn’t lived up to his billing.

Before he even threw a pitch for the Sox in 2012, Bailey required surgery on his right thumb and started the season on the disabled list. When he finally made his debut in August, he pitched in 19 games and posted a 7.04 ERA with 14 strikeouts, eight walks and three blown saves.

He was demoted to the role of setup man to begin 2013 in favor of newly minted closer Joel Hanrahan, but when Hanrahan required Tommy John surgery, Bailey was elevated back to the stopper's role and put up a 3.77 ERA in 30 games, striking out 39 and walking 12 while saving eight and blowing another five before feeling pain in his shoulder in a road game against his former team in July.

Bailey said he suspects the condition may have been related to a bicep tendinitis issue he was battling earlier in the year.

Luckily, the Red Sox had ample options in the bullpen that allowed the team to rebound in fine style with Koji Uehara, even after losing Hanrahan, Bailey and durable left-handed middle reliever Andrew Miller for the season.

Since being named the new closer June 21, Uehara is 3-0 with 13 saves and a 0.31 ERA in 29 innings.

“(Uehara’s) been phenomenal,” said Bailey. “You look at what we had at the beginning of the season to where they’re at now, and the guys have been picking us up. If it wasn’t for Koji, the bullpen could’ve been really bad. He’s really held it together all year and he picked me up when I was struggling. Guys have their up-and-down spells, and Koji just keeps on coasting. He’s a name down there that you can call anytime and know what you’re going to get.”

That hasn’t been the case with Bailey, who is eligible for arbitration next year before becoming a free agent in 2015.

Boston fans haven’t yet seen the Bailey who won the American League Rookie of the Year award in 2009, when he posted 26 saves and a 1.84 ERA, so it’s easy to forget how good he once was.

And maybe, hopefully, can be again.

Twitter: @jan_doh