Andrew Bailey eager to return

Updated: April 9, 2012, 4:15 PM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- Boston Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey called his recent thumb injury, and subsequent surgery, a freak situation that has left him frustrated, disappointed and angry.

The right-hander had surgery on Wednesday to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb and there is no timetable when he'll be able to return, but claims his season is not over.

"The doctor said the surgery went well and we didn't have to reconstruct anything, it was the ligament that was already in there, so that's a good sign," he said.

"I went through the phases of being frustrated and pissed off, but I've come to the realization that it is what it is and I've got to deal with it. I can't pitch with it, so I've got to get it fixed and move forward."

Bailey is scheduled to wear a soft cast for the next 10 to 14 days. He will then sport a brace and admitted he doesn't know what the exact timetable will be before he's able to throw.

"I will be able to make it back this year and the whole season is not lost," Bailey said. "There's a lot of good in that, but it's still very frustrating having to start the season this way. Hopefully all these injuries are behind me and I'll keep moving forward. All I can do is keep pushing forward, take care of business, get back out there and be ready to rock when the body is ready to go."

The first-year Red Sox closer injured his thumb during a spring training outing against Pittsburgh on March 21 when he jammed it in a collision with a base runner. He said he didn't think anything of it, but after a few days he felt discomfort. He attempted to pitch through it and admitted during Friday's conference call that his thumb didn't feel well.

"Every time out it kind of got worse and worse," he said.

He tried to pitch during a minor league game and the following day he could not grip a baseball and said there was a lot of pain involved.

"That's when I realized we need to get on top of this thing and it was obviously too late by then," he said. "It just got progressively worse and as I kept going with the activity, it got worse. Obviously, I had the torn UCL in the thumb. I was hoping maybe there was an option to take care of it after the season, or deal with some pain during the season and still be effective, but the fact of the matter was there was no option and we had to repair the ligament."

Because of Bailey's injury, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine needed to tweak his bullpen. He made Alfredo Aceves the closer and Mark Melancon the setup man.

That pair failed to get the job done on Opening Day in a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers.

Bailey believes in his absence the bullpen will be fine.

"There are a lot of good arms down there in the bullpen and those guys are going to have a great year," Bailey said. "I'm looking forward to joining them at some point and time, hopefully soon. Those guys will all get their roles defined and guys will pitch themselves into certain situations."

As far as his replacement, Bailey will leave that up to the manager.

"That's not really my decision, that's the manager's decision. Like I said, bullpens always figure themselves out and roles are always changing. There are a lot of good arms in that bullpen. I know Bobby said Aceves will be closing right now and he's got some great stuff. I know Mark's got some experience and a lot of guys down there will be fine in that role. The bullpen will be fine and they'll hold it down until I get back and I'm able to help them out.

"I'm obviously frustrated and disappointed," added Bailey. "I was trying to get off on the right start here and obviously that's not where I'm going. The fact of the matter is, it is what it is and it's an unfortunate injury. I'm really disappointed."

When the Red Sox acquired Bailey via trade with Oakland in December, the right-hander said he was thrilled with this opportunity and also happy with the fact this offseason was the first healthy one he's had during his career.

He arrived at spring training and suffered a lat strain during his physical agility test, and then suffered this latest injury.

"It was the best offseason I've had health-wise and of course as soon as I get to camp, I had the lat thing and then this," Bailey said. "It's extremely frustrating."

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

EDITORS' PICKS

ALSO SEE