Joel Hanrahan started the season as the Red Sox closer before a series of rough outings led to his being put on the disabled list April 16 for what the team said was a strained right hamstring.
On Monday, Hanrahan threw in the bullpen for the first time since being sidelined and said he felt fine after 30 pitches. Hanrahan will start a minor league rehabilitation assignment this weekend.
That news came on the same day that replacement closer Andrew Bailey was named American League Co-Player of the Week with teammate Mike Napoli for the good work he has been doing out of the bullpen.
Bailey converted three of the first four save opportunities he had in Hanrahan’s absence, allowing two runs over five innings with one walk and eight strikeouts. He also got the save in Monday night’s 9-6 win over Oakland.
So what will happen once Hanrahan is ready to return? He is eligible to be activated Monday.
“I think we’ll get through the rehab assignments and get him back here before we address that,” manager John Farrell said. “I think it’s probably a little bit premature to state anything along those lines.”
That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of Hanrahan, who put 11 runners on base and allowed six earned runs in 4⅔ innings before he was shut down.
When Stephen Drew went on the disabled list with a concussion, Farrell made it clear that he would be the shortstop once he returned, regardless of how Jose Iglesias performed.
The decision apparently is not as automatic with Hanrahan, who was obtained from Pittsburgh in December and immediately named the closer. Bailey was demoted after missing much of last season with a thumb injury and pitching poorly once he did return.
Hanrahan said his leg felt fine after the workout, which also included some running drills in the outfield.
“It went pretty well,” he said. “Overall I think it was a positive day.”
Pitching coach Juan Nieves has been working with Hanrahan on mechanical issues.
“Subconsciously it’s in there and he felt something,” said Farrell. “It’s going to disrupt his focus on pitch-to-pitch. Some of the things that he’s working on are to hopefully take some of the stress off that leg. He uses a pretty pronounced drop-and-drive approach.
“Not that we’re looking to revamp his delivery, but to adjust to take some of the pressure off that hamstring.”
Said Hanrahan, “I would think having two good legs under me is going to help things get back to normal.”
Get there early
Monday’s game started at 6:35 p.m., 35 minutes earlier than usual for a typical night game at Fenway Park. Tuesday’s game is scheduled for the same time, as is Thursday’s game against Houston.
Sox chief operating officer Sam Kennedy said the team hopes the earlier start times will make it easier for families with school-age children to attend games.
The Sox also thought it would help make the chilly weather a little more tolerable.
Unofficially, the Sox knew they would have some trouble selling tickets for 17 April home games after a 69-93 season, especially for midweek games against low-profile opponents Oakland and Houston.
Unlike previous seasons, when sellouts were almost automatic, some creativity was needed.
Bad news travels
Wellesley native Nate Freiman was the designated hitter for Oakland. The 26-year-old rookie came into the game 3 for 18 with a home run and five RBIs.
The 6-foot-8-inch Freiman was drafted by the Padres out of Duke in 2009. The Astros selected him in the Rule 5 draft in December. When he went on waivers in March, Oakland claimed him.
Under Rule 5, Freiman must stay with the Athletics all season or be offered back to the Padres. His playing time has been sporadic, but Oakland likes his potential.
Freiman was in the parking lot at Oakland Coliseum last Monday when he started getting texts from relatives that there had been explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
“We had gone to the Marathon every year in Wellesley to see the runners go by,” Freiman said. “We’ve never seen it from Boylston Street, but we had been every year and I immediately got texts from my other family members saying that they were OK. But there were a lot of people that weren’t as fortunate to have their family be OK.
“I went inside, only a couple of people were there, and I turned on the TV and just couldn’t move.”
Like many, Freiman felt scared and confused, even from across the country.
“It was a really tough couple of days, and positives have come out of it,” he said. “It definitely makes me proud to be from this city and to see the way it’s brought out the best in so many people, and the way the city has handled it has been a huge inspiration, but the pain that was caused this past week hit really hard.”Continued...