The Red Sox have already lost one closer to the disabled list. They lost another tonight as Joel Hanrahan exited tonight’s game against the Twins after allowing a game-tying solo home run to Brian Dozier that reset the game at five apiece. Hanrahan got to 1-1 against his final batter, Josh Willingham, before throwing three straight balls. He was taken out and replaced by Clayton Mortensen.
On Twitter, Alex Speier speculated on various options, calling Koji Uehara “a good primary closing option” and suggests the Red Sox could also recall Alfredo Aceves.
Hanrahan entered the night with a 9.45 ERA in 6.2 innings. The home run to Dozier was the fourth he has allowed on the season. Comparatively, he allowed eight in 59.2 innings last year.
Boston made a pair of key roster moves, placing shortstop Stephen Drew on the seven-day disabled list for concussions and optioning right-hander Daniel Bard to Double-A.
Drew hasn’t played since being hit on the helmet by a pitch on March 7, struggling with dizziness and other post-concussion symptoms. Jose Iglesias will step in as the Opening Day shortstop.
Bard’s nightmare 2012 season has continued this spring with seven runs allowed in eight innings, although he has managed 10 strikeouts compared to four walks. He actually looked good early in camp, but has really struggled recently. Clayton Mortensen is expected to take the final spot in the Red Sox’s bullpen as they wait for Bard to show signs of being the dominant setup man from 2009-2011. Bard hasn’t pitched at Double-A since 2008, when he threw 50 innings with a 1.99 ERA and 64 strikeouts.
ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes thinks the Red Sox open the season with right-hander Daniel Bard with Triple-A Pawtucket:
How Farrell plans to deploy his bullpen at the start of the season is coming into sharper focus. First, even though he says the team has yet to make a decision regarding Daniel Bard, all signs point to Bard opening the season in Pawtucket, which puts Clayton Mortensen on the club.
Between ten starts and seven relief appearances in the big leagues last year, Bard finished with a 6.22 ERA with a significantly-reduced ability to miss bats and a ballooning walk rate. He wasn’t much better in the 32 innings with Pawtucket in the middle of 2012 either, as he posted a 7.03 ERA and a 32-to-29 strikeout-to-walk ratio there. Bard’s star has fallen since being a two-time top-100 prospect as ranked by Baseball America going into the 2007 and 2009 seasons.
Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Red Sox and setup man Koji Uehara have agreed to a one-year deal, pending a physical.
FOXSports.com’s Jon Morosi says the contract has a $4.25 million base salary.
One imagines Uehara could have held out for a multiyear deal, given his career 2.89 ERA and 0.92 WHIP since arriving in the U.S. four years ago. However, he has dealt with arm problems. Last season, he had a 1.75 ERA and a ridiculous 43/3 K/BB ratio in 36 innings for Texas.
Uehara joins a Boston pen also set to include Andrew Bailey, Mark Melancon, Alfredo Aceves and Craig Breslow, with Junichi Tazawa, Daniel Bard, Clayton Mortensen, Andrew Miller and Franklin Morales (if he’s not in the rotation) also in the mix. It’s possible his addition might force his countryman, Tazawa, out of the mix. Bard is out of options, so the Red Sox will have to keep him in the majors or trade him.