Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey said today that he will be back before the end of the season after having surgery on a torn ligament in his right thumb on Wednesday.
Bailey said he was injured during a spring training game against the Pirates on March 21 when he collided with Josh Pressley near first base.
“I realy didn’t think anything of it for a couple of days,” Bailey said during a conference call with reporters.
But in the days that followed, the pain magnified.
“I felt a little weakness in my thumb, a little achiness. Looking back, I could have spoke up then. But maybe it was just a little something or whatever,” Bailey said. “I went out and pitched the next couple of times and it didn’t feel great but each and every time out it kind of got worse and worse.”
“After I threw the minor league game [on March 28] I had trouble gripping the baseball and there was a lot of pain involved. That’s when I was like, ‘We’ve got to get on top of this thing.’ It was obviously too late by then.”
Bailey initially hoped the injury could heal without surgery, or that surgery could be delayed.
“I was hoping maybe there was an option to take care of it after the season or kind of deal with some pain during the season and still be effective. But the fact of the matter was there was no option like that and we had to repair the ligament,” he said.
After speaking to Dr. Thomas Graham, his surgeon, Bailey doesn’t believe the injury was made worse by trying to pitch.
“I’m obviously frustrated and disappointed. Trying to get off on the right start here and obviously that’s not where I’m going. The fact of the matter is, it is what it is and it’s an unfortunate injury and I’m really disappointed. The focus needs to be on the guys who are on the field and to know that I will be able to make it back this year and the whole season isn’t lost.
“There’s a lot of good in that. It’s still very frustrating having to start the season this way, kind of the same as last year. Hopefully all these injuries are behind me. Just take care of this one and just keep looking forward. That’s all I can do, is just keep pushing forward, take care of business and get back out there and be ready to rock when the body’s ready to go.”
Bailey traveled to Boston on Thursday and did not see the Red Sox bullpen allow two runs in 1.1 innings in a walk-off loss against the Tigers. He believes the relievers will come together in his absence.
“There’s a lot of good arms down there in the bullpen and those guys are going to have a great year. I’m looking forward to joining them at some point in time, hopefully soon,” he said. “They’ll be fine. The way things happened and when I got injured, very late, a lot of questions the last couple of days. It was all thrown in a jumble at the end. Those guys will all get their roles defined and guys will pitch themselves into certain situations and all that kind of stuff. It’ll be good.”
Bailey said he will be in a soft cast for roughly two weeks then a brace. Bailey is planning to speak to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who had similar surgery in 2010, for advice and information.
“I think after about 2-3 weeks, we’ll start doing the rehab process and getting some strength in there. As soon as the body lets me and the doctors give me their good word for the next step, that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.
Bailey said several times how frustrating this particular injury was.
“It’s just a freak thing, man. It’s not really a throwing injury, it’s just trying to be an athlete and cover first base and do something. It’s just one of those freak things,” he said. “I went though the phases of being frustrated and pissed off and all that kind of stuff. Just come to the realization that it is what it is and I’ve got to deal with it. I can’t pitch with it.
“I know that I’ll be better for it in the long run and come back as good as new and be ready to help this team as soon as the body allows and achieve our goals of winning a World Series. That’s what I’m looking forward to do. Until that point in time, I’m just trying to stay focused.”
Bailey said he would try to be a good teammate while he is out, offering advice to the other pitchers and working on his conditioning. He declined to comment on who he thinks should replace him as closer.
“Bullpens always figure themselves out,” he said. “Roles are always changing usually. There are a lot of good arms in that pen. Bobby said [Alfredo] Aceves will he closing right now. He’s got some great stuff.” … The bullpen will be fine. I know they’ll be all right. They’ll hold it down until I get back.”
Bailey is fairly convinced he will return before the year is out.
“I would really hope. I know from typical UCL injuries take, it’s safe to say that I will be back before the end of the year,” he said. “In terms of how soon that will be, that depends on the body and the throwing program. Talking with the doctor, I’m fairly confident I’ll be back before the end of the year and help this team get to the playoffs and win a World Series. That’s still a goal, man. The goal doesn‘t change.”
According to Bailey, his ligament was able to be mended and did not require full reconstruction.
“That’s a good sign,” he said.