While Bailey is sidelined, the top candidates to replace him as the closer are Mark Melancon and Alfredo Aceves.
Melancon is the obvious choice, as he was slated to be the set-up man and has experience closing. The 27-year-old assumed the Houston Astros’ closing job last season under similar circumstances, taking over after Brandon Lyon suffered an injury in April.
Melancon flourished in the role, finishing with a 2.78 ERA and 20 saves.
“I loved it. It was great,” Melancon said. “About three weeks or a month into the season, Brandon Lyon went down so I filled his spot. I really enjoyed it. Hopefully Andrew’s not out too long, but I can take over if need be.”
Herald | Thumb's down for Andrew Bailey
I'm going to assume Bailey will be out for a while. Why? He's going to Cleveland for a second opinion. Every time a Boston athlete goes to the Cleveland Clinic, they come back finding out they have something seriously wrong (Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox come to mind). Obviously, there is a direct correlation and I am a doctor.
While it's not good, we could be in worse shape. Melancon has done it in the past, albeit for the Astros. And while he is indeed the obvious choice, I wonder if Bobby V might throw a bone Aceves' way. After Alfredo's mini-tantrum to reporters about never feeling like he had a chance to win a starting job, it would be a nice gesture. But nice gestures don't win games, and I'm sure that is ultimately what will drive Bobby's thinking.
An extended DL stint would also open up another spot in the pen, likely for Scott Atchison or Michael Bowden. Dan Duggan suggests lefty Justin Thomas could also be in the mix. I'm partial to Bowden for the same reason I was partial to giving Doubront a starting opportunity -- it's put-up-or-shut-up time for these guys. They've been around forever. And Bowden's out of options, so if he's lousy we can cut him loose and move on from him.
On page 2, more news about a less-than-positive relationship between Bobby V and a player.
Valentine said he has not been able to develop the rapport he had hoped for with outfielder Carl Crawford, whose setback from offseason wrist surgery has relegated him to conditioning drills and batting practice.
“We would have loved to have seen him in a game and get to work with him and talk to him down here in this practice environment,” he said. “The first time we’ll see him in uniform will be that real environment.”
He said Crawford is making slow progress and should be able to take a few game at-bats soon. He’ll remain in Fort Myers when the team breaks camp today.
“The weather has been great and there’s no reason to do anything where the weather might interrupt his progress,” Valentine said.
He said Crawford might go on assignment, but that it’s not necessary.
“I’ve seen guys go from at-bats down here to the big leagues,” he said.
ESPNBoston | Bobby V talks Crawford, closer situation
Why does every story involving Carl Crawford have to be so depressing? He's always hurt, pressing, or sulking. I want so desperately for him to be the happy, dynamic player we saw for so many years in Tampa.
I'm still hopeful that we'll get that. If he gets back on track and starts performing, that will solve all problems. So if staying in Fort Myers is the solution, then let him stay down there.
Also worth noting: Bobby V says he might not need any rehab assignment. Before, there had been a suggestion that Carl would need 50 at bats in a rehab assignment, which is why everybody was convinced we wouldn't see him until May. If he can get in that work in Florida on an accelerated timeline, maybe we'll see him sooner.
Herald | Beckett 'sitation' could be a non-starter | Closer to making it | Bad string of thumb luck for Sox | Globe | Bailey needs surgery on his thumb | Schilling's attacks miss mark | Boston baseball memorabilia and appraisal show planned | ESPNBoston | Red Sox 4, Nationals 2 | Bobby Valentine fires back | Josh Beckett has injured thumb | CSNNE | Report: Bailey may require surgery | After impressive spring, Cook heads to Pawtucket