Bailey OK with role, hopes to close again

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- New Red Sox pitcher Joel Hanrahan said Wednesday morning he has no plans to relinquish his role as the team’s closer.

“That’s the role they gave me coming in after the trade and I don’t plan on just giving it up,” he said.

Fellow reliever Andrew Bailey was standing within earshot and appeared to have no issue with Hanrahan’s comments, because both were told of the team’s plan this winter after the Red Sox acquired Hanrahan in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates in December.

Prior to the trade, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell both spoke with Bailey about the team’s plan to name Hanrahan the closer and use Bailey primarily as an eighth-inning setup man.

“Ben had given me a little heads up on that and I said, ‘Hey, whatever makes us better.’ I only get to play this game a certain amount of time and I want to win,” Bailey said Wednesday. “All the accolades are great in the role of a closer, but ultimately everyone here wants to win and that’s the goal.”

The Red Sox now have plenty of depth in their bullpen. Even though it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Cherington trade one of his bullpen many arms, Bailey said he wants to remain in Boston.

“I love it here,” he said. “The team we have is a winner, a contender. We do have a deep bullpen. Starters only have to go four or five innings, really. It’ll be fun down there, for sure. Obviously, everyone’s goal as a reliever is to close, and I’ve said this before, I don’t think my closing days are done and I certainly hope they’re not done in Boston. I love the city. I love being here and it’s close to home (Connecticut) for me.”

When Bailey arrived in Boston prior to the 2012 season, he was tagged as the club’s closer. But a thumb injury and subsequent surgery last spring forced the right-hander to miss the majority of last season. Alfredo Aceves served as the Sox closer and when Bailey returned late in the season, he made 19 appearances and collected six saves.

“I wasn’t able to do what I wanted to do last year, or had that opportunity because of the injury,” he said. “I’m excited about this year to come in healthy and show what I can do.”