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Bailey hoping to make Yankees' investment pay off

Tampa, Fla. -- The Yankees have preached patience with Andrew Bailey, hoping that the former All-Star closer will be able to take advantage of their facilities and pay big dividends down the line. That time may be quickly approaching.

Bailey has been throwing at the Yankees' complex for nearly a month and will soon advance to facing live hitters. Nearly all the way back from July 2013 surgery to repair a torn labrum and shoulder capsule, Bailey believes he can crack the team's Opening Day roster.

"Everything feels great," Bailey said. "I'm with the team and doing everything as I would normally and if I need a little extra work here or there, that's fine, too. I'm here to compete and earn a spot."

Bailey threw 30 pitches on Tuesday, firing fastballs, curveballs and cutters while drawing the attention of manager Joe Girardi and pitching coordinator Gil Patterson. Bailey has recorded 89 saves over his five big league seasons, including 51 during back-to-back All-Star campaigns with the A's in 2009-10.

"Compared to where he was last year to where he is, there's significant improvement," Girardi said. "I don't know exactly what we'll see as far as games, and his bullpens are a little more spread out than some of the other relievers, but that's on purpose right now. Our hope is that we can catch him up and keep him healthy."

Bailey last pitched in the Majors with the Red Sox in 2013, posting a 3.77 ERA in 30 appearances while finishing 17 games. The Yankees signed Bailey to a Minor League contract in February 2014, with general manager Brian Cashman saying at the time that it was more of an investment toward the '15 season.

By mid-September, Bailey had appeared in simulated games but setbacks prevented him from getting into Minor League games, prompting the Yankees to shut him down. The Yanks declined a 2015 option on Bailey's contract, but he quickly re-signed, saying he was not tempted to look elsewhere.

"Knowing the long shot of me potentially pitching last year and having the respect to sign me, knowing what I went through, I give them a lot of credit," Bailey said. "It's awesome they gave me the shot, and I'm looking forward to a healthy season."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.
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