According to WEEI, Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey could be out for an extended period after injuring the ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb during spring training. The Boston Globe reported on Tuesday that Bailey will likely need surgery to repair the damage and could be sidelined for two to three months as a result.
UPDATE: Wednesday, April 4th at 5:00 p.m. ET
Alex Speier of WEEI.com has passed along some semi-good news about Bailey:
Bailey's surgery is done and 'went well,' according to a team spokesperson.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) April 4, 2012
Could be worse. The team spokesman could have said "went awful."
Until further notice, assume that Bailey's recovery time is still 3-4 months (see below).
UPDATE: Wednesday, April 4th at 2:20 p.m. EST
With Bailey out for at least half of the season with a thumb injury, the Red Sox will go with Alfredo Aceves as their closer for at least one game, according to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports.
#RedSox will close with Aceves if they have the lead in ninth tomorrow, Bobby V says.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) April 4, 2012
The Red Sox and Bobby Valentine could learn a thing or two about naming closers from the Rays.
In the scheme of things, being named closer means nothing. Aceves will get his shot for now, so we shall see how that plays out.
You have to wonder if/when the Red Sox will put Daniel Bard, who doesn't have the arsenal to get left-handed hitters out as a starter, back in the bullpen before Bailey comes back.
UPDATE: Tuesday, April 3rd at 6:42 p.m. EDT
The Red Sox's fear have been confirmed. Sean McAdam of Comcast Sports Net New England reports that Bailey will, indeed, undergo surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb on Wednesday:
Red Sox confirm that Bailey will undergo surgery Wed. repair ligament in r thumb. Reporter earlier recovery time: 3-4 months. #RedSoxTalk— Sean McAdam(@Sean_McAdam) April 3, 2012
That 3-to-4-month timetable pushes Bailey's return back to sometime after the 2012 MLB All-Star Game.
Boston acquired Bailey, along with outfielder Ryan Sweeney, back in December in a trade that sent Josh Reddick and a pair of prospects back to the Oakland A's. The cause of Bailey's latest injury remains somewhat uncertain, though it's believed that he hurt his thumb in a collision while covering first base during a game last Wednesday.
Bailey's battled his body throughout his major league career, from minor elbow and knee surgery in 2010 to a strained forearm in spring training last year to a strained shoulder and a bum thumb this time around.
Without Bailey in the bullpen, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine is expected to turn to Mark Melancon and Alfredo Aceves to fill the void at the back end of games. Melancon converted 20-of-25 save opportunities with the Houston Astros last season, while Aceves has a long history of succeeding in high-stress situations late in games with both the New York Yankees and the Sox.
If you're looking to replace Bailey on your fantasy baseball team, give Melancon a look first. He's likely easier to get ahold of now that most drafts are complete, and seems likely to get the initial crack at closing games.