Farrell on bullpen: 'A very strong group'

With Joel Hanrahan slotted in as the Red Sox's closer and Andrew Bailey, who was scheduled to be the closer last season before running into injury problems, lined up as the primary set-up man, John Farrell likes how his bullpen is shaping up.

With the additions of Hanrahan and Koji Uehara, having a healthy and productive Daniel Bard, along with Bailey, Alfredo Aceves, Junichi Tazawa and left-handers Craig Breslow and Andrew Miller, Boston's bullpen looks solid.

“If all those guys pitch to their capabilities and remain healthy, once we enter spring training and the start of the season, the roles will become more defined,” Farrell said. “But on days when certain guys might need a little bit of a rest, we've got depth and options that have closed out games in the past, and we feel like the group will benefit from one another.

“The depth and the quality of the relieving group that we have in place doesn't take away from our need to continue to get Daniel Bard back to the level he's pitched previous, but when you think of him in the group, with the addition of Uehara, and the continued emergence of Junichi, and then the left-handed complement of Miller and Breslow, this is a very strong group.

“Andrew will pitch in critical moments and critical spots late in the game. I think Joel, having been a two-time All-Star as a closer the last two years, and Andrew has had success in his own right, this just bolsters the strength of our team even more so.”

Hanrahan caught the Red Sox's eye in June 2011, when he shut down the Sox twice in interleague play at Pittsburgh.

On June 24, the Pirates held a 3-1 lead when Hanrahan took the ball in the top of the ninth inning. He faced the top of the order and retired Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez to end the game.

On June 25, Pittsburgh held a 6-4 lead when Hanrahan again was called into service in the top of the ninth. He quickly recorded two outs before Pedroia doubled. Hanrahan then struck out Gonzalez to end the game as the Pirates took two of three games in that series.

“It was obviously a big series,” Hanrahan recalled. “The Pirates were in a good spot, I think we might have been in first or second place at that time. The stadium was sold out that weekend and I got that strikeout of Adrian Gonzalez to end the game and I think when people look back at me as a Pirate, that’s one that stands out the most to them.

“It was a fun weekend. The Red Sox came into Pittsburgh and people thought they were going to boss the Pirates around that weekend and we took two out of three from them. It was a good time. It was fun.”

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