Before Wednesday's game against the Marlins, Andrew Bailey tossed a bullpen session of 25 pitches. It signaled a significant step for Bailey, who has been sidelined all season after undergoing thumb surgery in April.
Less than 24 hours later, Bailey –– who was acquired via trade in December for outfielder Josh Reddick –– felt encouraged about his progress and intends to fire off another bullpen session on Friday.
"It’s obviously a big step," Bailey said. "I was down in Florida and threw some flat-grounds and stuff like that and it was going well and progressing the way we want to, so yesterday was working on mechanics and getting the arm ready."
During Wednesday's session, Bailey strictly worked on his fastball. Once he returns to throwing on Friday, the closer plans to incorporate more offspeed pitches into his routine to return to his rhythm.
When Bailey first got his brace removed seven weeks ago, he started tossing a few pitches. At that point, the 28-year-old said he was still sensing residual aches as a result of his procedure.
These days, however, Bailey doesn't feel a hint of pain.
"My thumb feels great," he said. "It's 100 percent. Like I said, I'm ready to get back into the swing of things."
Once the Red Sox head to Seattle on June 28 for a seven-game road trip, Bailey will head back to Fort Myers to initiate his rehab assignment. While the closer didn't discuss an exact timetable, he is targeting two to three innings of work in the minors.
Then, if all goes well, Bailey should be ready to usurp the closing job from Alfredo Aceves. Even so, Bailey showered Aceves –– who has converted 17 of 20 save opportunities –– with praise.
"He’s shutting the door down," Bailey said. "It's fun to watch that. It's a hard situation to jump into with me going down at the end of spring training and him fighting for that starting job and then having to go into the closer's mentality right away. He’s done a fantastic job. You can't ask for anything better from him."