Boston Red Sox Closer Andrew Bailey May Start Season on Disabled List

By Sam Feeley

A right thumb injury sustained in a March 21 game against the Pittsburgh Pirates may force newly acquired Boston Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey to start the 2012 season on the disabled list.

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine speculates that the injury occurred during a collision with the Pirates’ Alex Presley in the March 21 game.

“The only thing I can think of is he went down after the collision, and with the adrenaline didn’t even realize anything happened,” Valentine told reporters.

Bailey reportedly noticed the injury flaring up while squeezing a shampoo bottle. According to pitching coach Bob McClure, “he was squeezing some shampoo, and said, ‘Man, my thumb is sore… you have stuff that’s sore all the time. It’s like, ‘Well, you know, big deal. It’ll go away.’ It just didn’t go away.”

Whether Bailey will indeed start the season on the DL remains to be seen, but he didn’t make his Grapefruit League debut until March 12 due to a lat injury, and now he hasn’t pitched with the major league club since March 25. He threw 26 pitches with the minor league camp on Wednesday.

It is interesting to note that in the Pittsburgh game where Bailey was purportedly injured, he allowed two runs and three hits in his only inning of work, but appeared unaffected in his next two appearances against the Philadelphia Phillies and the Toronto Blue Jays, allowing no runs, one hit, and one walk while striking out two over two innings combined. Overall this spring he’s logged a 0-1 record with a 4.50 ERA and seven strikeouts in six appearances.

If Bailey is placed on the DL before Opening Day for the second straight season (last year he missed the A’s opener with a forearm injury), Mark Melancon and Alfredo Aceves will be the likely candidates to close games until he returns. Melancon had 20 saves in 2011 with the Astros, while Aceves has four career saves, two of them coming in 2011.

The Red Sox don’t have too much time to decide whether Bailey will be shelved or not. The deadline to set 25-man rosters is Wednesday at 5 p.m eastern time.

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