Andrew Bailey wanted to fight through the pain. Shortly after suffering a thumb injury in his throwing hand, the Red Sox closer assessed all his options in an attempt to delay surgery until after the season.
But there was no way around the inevitable. As a result of the soreness, Bailey –– who was acquired in a trade in December –– underwent a procedure on Wednesday to reconstruct the ulnar collateral ligament.
Considering his lengthy injury history, the pitcher endured a flurry of emotions upon battling another setback.
"It's extremely frustrating," Bailey said. "I went through the 'Woe is me' and the next day being pissed off and the frustration. You get back to the sane point of dealing with it and moving forward and being mentally tough enough to overcome."
Bailey first suffered the injury in a collision at first base against the Pirates in a spring training game. As time passed, he started to struggle with everyday chores, such as squeezing a shampoo bottle –– which helped him identify abnormal pain.
But it took until after Bailey tossed an outing on March 28 against minor leaguers for him to report the problem to the Red Sox. Despite waiting, Bailey doesn't believe pitching through the sting affected the outcome.
"I don't think I made it worse by pitching on it by any means," Bailey said. "It's a freak thing. It's not really a throwing injury, just trying to be an athlete and cover first base. It's one of those freak things and it stinks."
Before going under the knife, Bailey consulted Jarrod Saltalmacchia, Kevin Youkilis and Jason Repko, who all underwent variations of the thumb surgery. By those standards and speaking with his surgeon, he expressed confidence in an eventual return.
"I think it's safe to say I'll be back before the end of the year," Bailey said. "In terms of how soon, that kind of depends on the body and the throwing process. Talking to the doctor, I'm fairly confident in saying I'll be back before the end of the year."
While Bailey rehabs over the next few months, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine tabbed Alfredo Aceves as the team's interim closer with Mark Melancon as the backup option.
Although Bailey didn't watch the bullpen unravel in Thursday’s 3-2 loss against the Tigers, he doesn't doubt the group's ability for a second.
"Bullpen's always figure themselves out and roles always change," Bailey said. "There's a lot of good arms in that 'pen and they'll figure themselves out. I know Bobby said Aceves will be closer right now and he's got some great stuff. I know Mark has some experience."
Along the way, Bailey volunteered to help his teammates with their scouting and video analysis.