Andrew Bailey Physically, Mentally Prepares to Be Team’s Closer, Atone for Last Season

Andrew BaileyBOSTON — The 2012 season was a nightmare for Andrew Bailey.

Bailey hoped to shed his reputation of being injury-prone after being traded from Oakland. Instead, the closer hurt his thumb and was out until August.

When he returned, Bailey was far from stellar in relief, going 1-1 with a 7.04 ERA. The 28-year-old also failed to convert three of his nine save opportunities, a string of lackluster performances that he’s anxious to end next season.

“My performance last year, I’d be the first to say, wasn’t who I was or wasn’t anything I was proud of,” Bailey said. “Even when I was healthy, I didn’t do my job to my fullest expectations or the organization’s expectations. I’m taking that into my offseason workout, knowing I have to hammer down games for this organization and for this team. We’ve got to get to the playoffs. That’s where my mindset is.”

Reports have surfaced saying the Red Sox would be opening to trading Bailey. With the emergence of Junichi Tazawa, who posted a 1.43 ERA last season in relief, Bailey could become expendable.

But Bailey isn’t allowing that thought to creep into his mind. He tweaked his offseason schedule and plans to start light throwing as early as this week.

“Right now, I would think I’m the only guy in that [closer's] role,” said Bailey, who is looking to arrive in Fort Myers in the first week of February. “They traded for me for a reason.”

Even with those competitive juices, Bailey raved about Tazawa’s growth over the past season. He said he is looking forward to teaming up with the Japanese hurler and shutting opponents down in the back end of the bullpen.

“Him mentally just handling the ups and downs between Triple-A and the big leagues was very impressive,” Bailey said of Tazawa. “And obviously, coming up here and doing what he did is just icing on the cake. He has a big bright future ahead of him. I loved having him in the bullpen. Anyone with that kind of stuff deserves an opportunity.”

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