Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan threw 30 pitches in the bullpen today, his first such exercise since going on the disabled list with a sore right hamstring. He also did some agility work in the outfield, running at angles and changing direction to further test his leg.
“Felt good,” said Hanrahan, who threw mostly fastballs and felt no pain in his leg. “It’s getting better. Everything is feeling pretty good. I don’t feel it right now.”
Hanrahan is expected to throw a more intense bullpen session Wednesday, then start a minor league rehabilitation assignment after that. The tentative plan is for him to pitch in a game over the weekend.
Hanrahan said he is hoping to make one appearance before being activated.
“One, two appearances,” said manager John Farrell.
Pitching coach Juan Nieves has been working with Hanrahan on some mechanical issues, too. Clearly the injury affected his delivery. But it was more than that that led to those shaky outings early in the season.
“Subconsciously it’s in there and he felt something,” said Farrell. “It’s going to disrupt his focus on pitch to pitch. Some of things that he’s working 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.”
Andrew Bailey has converted three of four save opportunities as the closer in Hanrahan’s absence, allowing two runs over five innings with one walk and eight strikeouts.
Bailey and Mike Napoli were named the co-Players of the Week in the American League.
Once Hanrahan returns, will the Sox have a dilemma?
“I think we’ll get through the rehab assignments and get [Hanrahan] back here before we address that,” Farrell said. “I think it’s probably a little bit premature to state anything along those lines.”
When Stephen Drew went on the DL with a concussion, Farrell made it clear that he would be the shortstop once he returned regardless of how Jose Iglesias performed. So this is a little bit of a departure from that.
It’s not going to be an issue for at least another week. But it’s worth keeping an eye on.
• Shane Victorino is back in the lineup after missing Sunday’s doubleheader with a sore lower back.
• Slumping Will Middlebrooks and slumping Andrew Miller got crew cuts. Can’t hurt.
• RHP John Lackey is scheduled to pitch four innings for Portland tonight.
• LHP Franklin Morales will not pitch for Portland tonight because of a sore left pectoral muscle.
• Craig Breslow will start his rehab assignment Saturday with Pawtucket.