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Saturday, May 11, 2013
Surgery for Hanrahan; long toss for Bailey

By Tony Lee, Special to ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- The news Saturday morning that one-time Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan was going to undergo season-ending surgery on a torn flexor tendon was not a complete surprise.

However, it helped to close one chapter in the ever-changing Sox bullpen, and allowed most to turn their full attention to what's left. That begins with Andrew Bailey, who is on the disabled list with a biceps strain.

Manager John Farrell said Bailey was expected to throw from 120 feet Saturday and then get out to 150 feet in the coming days. There is a chance Bailey could be back on the mound next week, possibly throwing in simulated games.

Bailey, who could slide back into the closer role now occupied by Junichi Tazawa, has indicated he will not be ready to come off the DL when eligible Tuesday. Farrell did not know yet if Bailey would require a rehab stint in the minors.

As for the condition of the bullpen as a whole, Farrell was quick to express confidence in the patchwork crew: "Healthy. Ready to go."

In other pregame news:

* Farrell confirmed that Will Middlebrooks is going to battle rib issues for some time, but indicated that playing the young third baseman on an everyday basis is not an issue.

"He feels it. It doesn't hinder him in any way," Farrell said. "Like I said, he's finding his way. The fact that there's some discomfort in the ribs, we're not putting him in harm's way. That's been cleared through the medical staff."

Middlebrooks was hurt in a collision with catcher David Ross on Tuesday. He does not have any broken ribs but there is bruising for Middlebrooks, who entered Saturday hitting just .206. Farrell said he sees the growth process as Middlebrooks endures some of his first major roadblocks as a professional.

"There was a 3-4 game stretch where defensively things weren't as sharp as the remainder of the year so far," Farrell added. "I think given the production at the plate he's been able to separate that and play very well defensively with the exception of a couple of games. I think that's the sign of a mature player and at the same time he's spent countless hours with [third base coach Brian Butterfield] just getting his footwork more consistent, buy him some time to get that arm action.

"It's his first full season. He's kinda finding his way."

* Jonny Gomes is back in the lineup after two days on the bench following his five-RBI performance against Minnesota on Wednesday. Farrell stops short of labeling Gomes a strict platoon player, but understands that he is best served against the occasional left-hander and has admired how Gomes has found ways to contribute in limited play.

* A day game after a night game seemed to be a good time for Farrell to give struggling first baseman Mike Napoli a rest. The skipper had conversations about that following Friday's game, but elected to stick with Napoli against Toronto lefty Mark Buehrle.

"Mike has been shown to get into really strong streaks, and there's been others times where we've got to ride that with him," Farrell said.

Expect Farrell to take advantage of an early departure after a day game Sunday and a day off Monday to work in some rest for Napoli. That may include sitting him in the opener of the upcoming series in Tampa Bay, with its unforgiving turf. That would give Napoli two full days and the night of a third to take it easy.

"What he's going through is not something new to him, and yet with tomorrow being a day game and Monday being an off day we're trying to find ways to get back-to-back days off," Farrell said . "We're in a pretty good stretch. There's not an off day until June 3rd, the next one, so we've got to balance some things out going forward."

Since opening May with two monster home runs in Toronto, Napoli is 6-for-34 (.176) with no homers in nine games.