December 27, 2012

Hanrahan aboard as Red Sox closer

Boston completes a six-player trade with the Pirates, and name Joel Hanrahan as the closer.

By HOWARD ULMAN The Associated Press

BOSTON - If Joel Hanrahan can do for the Boston Red Sox what he did against them, they should be very happy with their new closer.

In the first of his two All-Star seasons, the right-hander posted back-to-back saves for the Pittsburgh Pirates with perfect ninth innings against the Red Sox in June 2011. He struck out Adrian Gonzalez, who entered the series batting .359, to end the second game.

"When people look back on me as a Pirate, that's the one that stands out the most to them," Hanrahan said Wednesday after being obtained in a six-player trade.

People such as Red Sox assistant general manager Brian O'Halloran.

"It definitely made an impression on me," he said. "It was not fun to be in the batter's box against Joel Hanrahan."

Boston also received infielder Brock Holt. The Sox gave up right-handers Mark Melancon and Stolmy Pimentel, infielder Ivan DeJesus Jr. and first baseman-outfielder Jerry Sands.

The Red Sox also announced the signing of free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew, who agreed to a one-year deal last week.

The acquisitions are the latest in a series of moves designed to improve on a 69-93 record and a last-place finish in the AL East. The Red Sox already obtained right-handers Ryan Dempster and Koji Uehara, outfielders Shane Victorino and Johnny Gomes and catcher David Ross.

Over the past two years, Hanrahan had 76 saves, fourth-most in the National League, and a 2.24 ERA. Last season he was 5-2 with a 2.72 ERA and 36 saves.

The six-year veteran will take over the closer's role that Alfredo Aceves struggled in most of last season before giving way to Andrew Bailey, who missed most of the season with a right thumb injury.

In his first season with Boston, Bailey was 1-1 with a 7.04 ERA and six saves in nine opportunities over 19 games.

Manager John Farrell has talked with Hanrahan and Bailey and told them Hanrahan will be the closer, although "we see Andrew as playing a very important role," O'Halloran said.

"I got excited" when he learned of the trade, Hanrahan said. "Obviously the Red Sox have a great history and tradition, and it's a huge sports city."

In six seasons, 21/2 with Washington and 31/2 with the Pirates, he's 22-17 with a 3.74 ERA and 96 saves in 117 chances. His best season was 2011 when he went 1-4 with a 1.83 ERA, 40 saves in 44 opportunities and 16 walks in 682/3 innings. His control slipped last season when he walked 36 in 592/3 innings.

Hanrahan said hamstring and ankle problems affected his pitching mechanics.

"I don't think the walks are going to be a concern," he said. "I feel good going to spring training."

Hanrahan said he's never been to Fenway Park, but O'Halloran doesn't think he'll have trouble adjusting to the American League.

"Joel Hanrahan has the stuff to pitch anywhere," he said.

 

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