Bailey removed from closer's role in favor of Uehara
DETROIT -- Andrew Bailey has lost his job as the Red Sox's closer, at least for the time being. In the short term, veteran right-hander Koji Uehara will pitch the ninth inning for Boston.
Manager John Farrell met with Bailey and Uehara prior to Friday's game against the Tigers.
"If there's a save situation tonight, it'll be Koji," said Farrell. "I had a chance to talk to both him and Andrew, and just where we're at, Andrew needs to back out and get some [non-save] opportunities where he gets a little momentum. We did this before with him and Joel [Hanrahan] as well. All good players go through stretches where things aren't happening for them, so that's where we're at right now."
The change in roles came after Thursday night's blown save by Bailey. It was the third time in Bailey's last five outings he was unable to convert a save. Over that span, Bailey has a 15.75 ERA while opponents have hit him at a .444 clip.
"[Farrell] just said that we're going to back you out for a little while and just kind of give me a little breather," said Bailey. "It's understandable for sure. I'm not doing the job. I totally get it. One bad week doesn't necessarily make it a bad year."
Closing is something Uehara has some familiarity with. He has 15 career saves, 13 of which came in 2010, when he spent part of the season as the Orioles' closer.
"As I mentioned yesterday, I'm not going to change anything," Uehara said through an interpreter. "I'm going to do my best and just go about my business."
In 2007, Uehara closed for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, saving 32 games and posting a 1.74 ERA.
That experience was probably the leading factor in Uehara getting the call over two other solid setup men -- lefty Andrew Miller and righty Junichi Tazawa.
"It had a lot to do with it. We're very confident when he walks to the mound," said Farrell. "He's been very good for us. He's had success in closing opportunities previously. There's an element of not only dependability, but success in the past that we're turning to."
Asked how long he expected to close, Uehara chuckled and said, "I'm assuming two or three days."
Given that Uehara is 38, his workload might be a little less than a typical closer. With that in mind, Miller and Tazawa could get some opportunities.
"We'll see. Hopefully we have save opportunities every night," Farrell said. "If he's not available, we have confidence that it could be Junichi, it could be Andrew Miller -- and, in time, Andrew Bailey."
In 32 games this season, Uehara has a 2.10 ERA and opponents are hitting .176 against him. He has walked seven while striking out 42 over 30 innings.
Of late, Bailey has struggled to command his breaking pitches and his fastball has lacked the life of earlier in the season. The righty is confident he can make the necessary adjustments to reclaim his role.
"Obviously anything can happen and I'm fully aware of that," Bailey said. "I feel like it's my job and I'll be back in there. I have confidence in that. I'll just throw the ball like I know I can."
In fact, Bailey sounded determined to get his groove back.
"The way I was throwing the ball in the beginning of the year, and missing time, I'm having a rough go of it," Bailey said. "It doesn't mean it's a bad year by any means. I just kind of maybe need a little breather to work on some things and I'll be back out there. I fully believe that I'm the guy here to do that job, and right now, they're going to go with someone else for a little bit, but I don't think it's a permanent thing."
Ideally, Farrell would insert Bailey into a couple of low-leverage situations to help him regain his confidence.
"I think we've got to get a couple of outings under his belt to further enforce, or reinforce, his confidence," Farrell said. "I think just to walk off the mound with a successful outing, yeah. It's hard to script right now when and what situation that'll be in."
In Bailey's perfect script, he will have his job back by the time the biggest games of the season arrive.
"The team is definitely picking me up. I just have to get myself get together. That's it," Bailey said. "One bad week doesn't ruin a whole year. There's a lot of games left, a lot of time left. I know that I'm going to throw that last pitch this year."