When Joel Hanrahan was activated from the disabled list earlier this week, Red Sox manager John Farrell decided to stick with Andrew Bailey in the closer role. That arrangement didn’t last long, as Hanrahan converted the save in tonight’s 3-1 win over the Blue Jays because Bailey was unavailable due to biceps soreness.
Bailey told Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal that he initially felt symptoms during his last appearance on Sunday, but they were still present during his bullpen session yesterday. He called the issue “minor,” so the hope is that he’ll be ready to return to game action within the next couple of days.
Bailey has a 1.46 ERA, five saves and a 20/4 K/BB ratio over 12 1/3 innings this season. The 28-year-old right-hander made 13 appearances in April, his most in any month since May of 2010. While he’s one of the best relievers in the game when healthy, he hasn’t thrown more than 49 innings in a season since he won the American League Rookie of the Year Award with the A’s in 2009.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉