Red Sox bullpen gets Bailey back
Closer works strong inning at Pawtucket in his final rehab tuneup
MINNEAPOLIS -- Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey pitched an inning at Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday and was slated to rejoin the team on Monday. The move was made in late afternoon when Boston activated Bailey from the disabled list and optioned right-hander Jose De La Torre to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Bailey gave up a home run to former Major Leaguer Brett Carroll as well as a double, but retired the other three Indianapolis hitters he faced, two by strikeout. He threw 17 pitches, 14 for strikes, and suffered no setbacks, according to Red Sox manager John Farrell.
"Physically he came through it fine," Farrell said on Sunday morning. "He showed consistent velocity pre-injury. He'll rejoin us [Monday]. He'll get checked on, as anyone would in a situation like his, but he came out of last night feeling good physically."
Bailey, a 28-year-old right-hander, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 6 with a strained right biceps. The Red Sox media relations staff said he's expected to meet the club in Chicago for the start of a three-game series against the White Sox on Monday. And with a 1.46 ERA and five saves in 13 appearances this year, Bailey's return is a welcome sight to an already thriving Boston bullpen.
"I don't think you can underscore the importance of getting a two-time [All-Star] closer and former Rookie of the Year back at the back end of your bullpen," Red Sox reliever Craig Breslow said. "I think that the depth that we've amassed has allowed us to kind of slide guys in and out of the back end, but getting a stabilizing force like Bailey back will allow everybody else to kind of slot up a little bit, and I feel like we can continue to shorten the game even further."
Farrell noted that, like most pitchers coming off the disabled list, Bailey will be handled carefully as he builds back up to his normal workload.
"We're going to have to balance back-to-back days, which we're likely to stay away from initially," Farrell said. "But to slide guys back a little bit earlier, it gives us that flexibility with Junichi [Tazawa] a little bit more than holding him back to close out games."
Breslow, a teammate of Bailey's in Oakland (2009-11) and Boston the past two years, said that after arm trouble limited him to just 19 appearances last season, Bailey appeared to have regained his form in April before he went down.
"Bailey was throwing as well as he has in the last five years," Breslow said, "so as long as he can come back and just be himself, I feel like we're going to be in really good shape."
Lavarnway impressive as Ross improves
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Red Sox got a good report on Saturday regarding catcher David Ross, who is on the 7-day disabled list after sustaining a concussion on May 11.
Earlier this week, the Red Sox had hoped Ross would be ready to return to the lineup as soon as Sunday's series finale against the Twins, but his clearance exam was pushed back to Monday as he was still experiencing symptoms on Friday.
However, Red Sox manager John Farrell said he spoke with Ross on Saturday and he liked what he heard.
"He's improving, to the point where he was making requests if he could throw [Saturday], but we're still holding back any kind of physical activity," Farrell said. "Everything projects that after the re-exam on Monday, he'll start to go through some exertion testing, but he was in much better spirits [Saturday] than he was the day before. In his own words, he felt like he was turning the corner."
Ross was injured after taking numerous foul balls off his mask in a game against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park. He's been replaced on the roster by Ryan Lavarnway, who has impressed his manager during his brief callup.
"I thought he's done a very good job receiving," Farrell said. "I think he's still learning our guys on the mound in a regular-season environment -- it's different than Spring Training. He's swinging the bat with the consistency that he's had throughout his pro career and I think with more authority than he showed in Spring Training. He's a good player and he's going to be an offensive threat in this league."
A lifetime .171 hitter in parts of three seasons with the Red Sox, Lavarnway singled and hit a sacrifice fly in five plate appearances on Saturday night. He also held onto the ball in a violent collision at home plate, when burly Twins catcher Ryan Doumit tried to score on fly ball to short right field. And while the Twins were 2-for-2 on stolen bases on Saturday, Lavarnway threw out Tampa Bay's James Loney trying to steal third last Tuesday.
"I think one thing he's worked on that we saw in Tampa is the quick release and footwork with an accurate throw," Farrell said. "He's very capable behind the plate."
In other health-related notes, outfielder Shane Victorino returned to the lineup on Sunday after missing two games with a sore lower back, while shortstop Stephen Drew missed his second straight game with soreness in his mid-back.
Farrell's off-day plan extends to Ellsbury
MINNEAPOLIS -- Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was not in the starting lineup for the first time all season on Sunday, but he's not among a handful of players battling through nagging injuries.
Manager John Farrell said he plans to use this current nine-game road trip to give each of his regular starters a day off to help them manage a stretch of 20 games in 20 days that kicked off last Tuesday at Tampa Bay.
Minor injuries to shortstop Stephen Drew and outfielder Shane Victorino forced Farrell's hand somewhat, but first baseman Mike Napoli was given Friday off and Ellsbury's scheduled day off arrived on Sunday, despite his protests.
"Jacoby doesn't want to come out today," Farrell said. "We talked about it when we landed in Tampa the other night, because we'd been talking about some possibilities before we left on this road trip, and we thought there might have been a game where maybe it made sense. But when we landed he was like, 'I don't want to come out. I want to play every day.'"
However, the manager gets paid to make those types of decisions, and Farrell's learned over the years that even players who say they want to play 162 games eventually realize that taking a seat once in a while is in their best interests.
"I think what's common with every guy that you talk to is that they'll fight it initially, they don't want to come out of the lineup, but when they maybe let down a little bit or relax mentally, they can feel that their body is saying, 'You know what? This is going to be a good thing,'" Farrell said. "They don't want to hear it, they don't want to come out, but then they recognize ... OK. They feel it when they shut their mind off."
The trick, Farrell added, is to resist the temptation to use one of those players late in a close game. On Friday, the Red Sox and Twins were locked in a 2-2 battle that extended into extra innings, but Farrell stuck to his word and kept Napoli on the bench as Boston rallied for a 3-2 win in the 10th.
"What you want to guard against is that they shut it off mentally, and then you're going to then ask them to turn it back on and it takes away from the whole benefit of what an off-day might give them," Farrell said. "That's why you have those discussions and make those decisions in a non-emotional moment, so you can kind of play it out in your mind before that situation arises."
The one exception to the rule might be second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who hasn't missed a game yet this year and might be the only player that could force Farrell to re-consider his policy.
"Petey will fight that one tooth and nail. He's the last man standing right now and that's probably just the way he likes it," Farrell said. "If it comes to that, he and I will sit down and talk. But as well as he's playing, as good as he feels, as headstrong as he can be with not wanting to come out -- all of that is taken into account.
"Petey's the heartbeat of this team. You don't want to cut out the heart."
Patrick Donnelly is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.