BOSTON -- Red Sox reliever Andrew Bailey threw long toss again Sunday morning at Fenway Park and appears poised to get some work in on the mound soon as he recovers from a biceps strain.
Manager John Farrell said Bailey is on schedule to throw a bullpen session Tuesday, when the team is in Tampa Bay. If all goes well, Bailey likely would throw a simulated game soon thereafter. It remains to be seen if Bailey will require a rehab stint before he can be activated from the disabled list.
Whenever Bailey does return he will be a welcome addition to a bullpen that has been tested by injuries. Some cracks may be showing in the form of closer-of-the-week Junichi Tazawa, who has missed some spots recently as his workload builds.
“With overall usage, yeah, you’re always looking to balance that out,” Farrell said. “Yesterday, Junichi had two days down previous. Trying to monitor their workload not just in the early going but throughout the course of the year. We’d like to think that we keep any of our relievers out of the top 10 [in appearances] in the league, but Junichi’s up there, we know that.”
Tazawa has appeared in 18 games. Entering Sunday, that was tied for third in the American League. His ERA since April 30 is 8.31 and Tazawa has been saddled with the loss twice in that span.
Although Farrell hopes his team always has a lead to protect, he expects the workload for Tazawa and fellow right-hander Koji Uehara to naturally decrease over time.
“It’s also a function a little bit of the April that we had,” he said. “So many games that we were leading late, we had to go to him multiple times, he and Koji both, so I think in time with the role he’s in now that’ll start to come back to the pack a little bit.”
Uehara ranks second on the team in appearances with 16, but he has thrown just one inning (14 pitches) in the past week leading into Sunday. With Tazawa having thrown 21 pitches in Saturday’s loss and Uehara now trailing him in games, there is an opening for Farrell to favor Uehara on Sunday.
That does not mean that Farrell is planning to flip-flop their roles.
“I think it’s best for everyone in that bullpen to know who the closer is and guys will slot in roles prior to use of the closer,” he said when asked if a two-man closer committee would work in the interim. “I think just in terms of everyone knowing where they stand and the role that they occupy, that’s important for their own preparation as the game is nearing that seventh- through ninth-inning period.”
Bailey is eligible to return from the disabled list Tuesday, but obviously will need more time. Joel Hanrahan, the closer to begin the year, is scheduled to have season-ending surgery next week to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right arm.