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Saturday, December 1, 2012
Andrew Bailey plans on closing

By Gordon Edes

Andrew Bailey
Andrew Bailey is hoping for a healthier, more successful 2013, for himself and the Red Sox.
BOSTON -- Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey said he has heard from a number of former Oakland teammates raving about Jonny Gomes, the outfielder whose signing by the Sox was made official Saturday.

"From the first day of spring training [in Oakland], he came in and said this team reminded him of the 2008 Rays and kept the positive message throughout," Bailey said. "Guys told me I'm going to love him. I'm really looking forward to playing with him."

Bailey, limited by injuries to just 15 1/3 innings last season, said he plans to come to camp assuming that he is the team's closer.

"I think I have to," he said. "Right now I would think I'm the only guy in that role. They traded for me for a reason. Last year was very frustrating on a lot of counts. Even when I was healthy, I didn't do my job to my full expectations or the organization's expectations. I'm taking that into my offseason workout, knowing that I've got to hammer down games for this organization and this team and we've got to get to the playoffs.

"That's where my mindset is, and anything else happens, I'm just looking forward to throwing a lot of innings this year. My performance last year, I'll be the first to say wasn't who I was and wasn't anything I was proud of. This year I'm going to go out and do my job. I'm looking forward from Day 1 to the end of the World Series pitching for this organization."

Bailey said he has gotten positive feedback from Sox teammates about the hiring of John Farrell.

"I think it's great," he said. "Everything is headed in the direction the front office wants it to, and the history with Farrell is great for this team. I was talking with some of the guys this offseason and they're excited about it. I think the relationships are already kind of built in that regard. The newer guys, myself included, that's a good thing going into camp that a lot of the veteran guys, a lot of the core guys who have been here, already have those foundations set."

Bailey said he plans to begin some light throwing next week, with the idea of throwing off a mound after the first of the year and being in Fort Myers Feb. 1. His primary goal, he said, is to remain healthy, a goal that has proven elusive, a freak thumb injury in spring training last season sidelining him for months.

"For me, that's always been an issue, health," he said. "And this year I've got to prove I can stay healthy for a full season. I need to for myself and the organization. They traded for me for a reason, and there's no doubt in my mind I can do what they want me to."

Bailey had his own rave, for reliever Junichi Tazawa.

"Him mentally just handling the ups and downs between Triple-A and big leagues was very impressive," Bailey said. "And obviously, coming up here and doing what he did is just icing on the cake. He has a big bright future ahead of him. I loved having him in the bullpen. He's a funny guy. Anyone with that kind of stuff deserves an opportunity."

Bailey, who is arbitration-eligible, said there have been no discussions yet regarding his contract. He was paid $3.9 million last season and probably can expect only a slight raise in his second year of eligibility.