How close is reliever Andrew Bailey to joining the Red Sox for the first time this season, after fracturing his right thumb?
Given Bailey’s performance in back-to-back rehab outings on Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon for the Pawtucket Red Sox against the Syracuse Chiefs, the right-hander could be VERY close.
“I feel real close,” Bailey said after tossing a one-hit, two-strikeout scoreless inning Thursday. “I’m going along with the process here. We’ll re-evaluate (Friday) and kind of go from there. I’m definitely feeling good. I’m itching to get back. I’ve been itching since April 1. It’s been a long season and it’s not over yet and we’ve got some ballgames to win. I can’t wait to join the guys and help them get some ‘Ws.’”
Bailey took the mound in the sixth inning of what eventually would be a 6-3 victory by Syracuse.
He sandwiched strikeouts of Zach Walters and Carlos Maldonado around a ground single by Jarrett Hoffpauir, and then ended his work by inducing Brett Carroll to foul out to first. Bailey threw 14 of 20 pitches for strikes.
“I feel any time I’m on the mound I have confidence,” said Bailey. “It doesn’t really matter where you’re pitching or what inning you’re pitching. One of the biggest keys to success is having confidence in yourself.
“Even if you go out and have a bad outing like everybody does, you’ve got to be confident to go back out there the next day and get it done. For me, just being here or in Portland and working on pitches I have confidence to do everything. But you also have to understand you have to work on some things to get back to the big leagues.”
As far as Bailey was concerned, pitching effectively in consecutive games was a major achievement.
“This was a milestone that we wanted to get by first,” he said. “I think depending on how (Wednesday) went, today either was going to be a full inning or (I would) come (in) to finish an inning depending on how many pitches I threw (Wednesday). Efficiency obviously was on my side in my first game (Bailey only threw 11 pitches) and it allowed me to go out there and get in a full inning.
“I think that’s more important than finishing an inning,” continued Bailey. “It’s very important to get in those back-to-back innings.”
Between the two outings, Bailey used his full repertoire of pitches.
“Wednesday my cutter was a little better than today,” he said. “Today I was kind of erratic with it. Today I felt I had a better fastball and just used that more. That’s the type of thing on day-to-day basis is going to change. You’ve got to realize at the big league level what you have working that day. Today, my curveball was good.
“I got my other strikeout on a cutter,” added Bailey. “There’s confidence in my cutter. If you’re able to do that it’s huge. But that’s always a work in progress and is only something I think Mariano Rivera has.”
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