By HOWARD ULMAN AP Sports Writer
BOSTON (AP) _ For Andrew Bailey, coming in from the bullpen at
Fenway Park is a special feeling.
He’ll experience that a lot more next season.
New manager Bobby Valentine found his new man for the back end
of the Boston bullpen on Wednesday when the Red Sox obtained the
All-Star closer and outfielder Ryan Sweeney from the Oakland
Athletics for outfielder Josh Reddick, infield prospect Miles Head
and minor league pitcher Raul Alcantara.
In the deal, first reported by ESPN, Bailey gives the Red Sox a
reliable ninth-inning guy to replace the departed Jonathan
Papelbon, who signed a $50 million, four-year contract as a free
agent with the Philadelphia Phillies in November.
The 27-year-old Bailey has three saves in four appearances at
Fenway Park in his three major-league seasons.
“The one that sticks out the most was my first save opportunity
this year was against the Red Sox,” Bailey said in a conference
call. “I actually blew that save. From what I remember, there’s
nothing like the atmosphere of running into the game from the
bullpen at Fenway Park.”
A New Jersey native and offseason resident of Connecticut,
Bailey is excited about coming back east.
He already knows Valentine, who lives in Stamford, Conn., and
hosted several events for the pediatric cancer foundation of Bailey
and former teammate Craig Breslow.
“Bobby and I are good friends,” Bailey said. “It just kind of
helps knowing someone going in.”
Bailey _ the 2009 AL Rookie of the Year, who made the All-Star
team that season and again in 2010 _ had been the subject of trade
talk this offseason.
The right-hander went 0-4 with a 3.24 ERA and 24 saves in 41 2-3
innings and 42 appearances this year. He spent time on the disabled
list for the second straight season, pitching for the first time in
2011 on May 29 after being sidelined with a strained right forearm.
“I’m feeling good,” he said. “This is my first healthy
offseason I’ve had since I’ve been in the big leagues.”
In his career, he is 7-10 with a 2.07 ERA and 75 saves in 84
Bailey becomes the fourth key pitcher traded this month for the
rebuilding A’s, who dealt starter Trevor Cahill and reliever
Breslow to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Dec. 9 and then sent
left-handed starter Gio Gonzalez to Washington last Thursday.
“That organization is heading down a different road where
they’re trying to get younger and build for a future in San Jose,”
Oakland general manager Billy Beane is retooling his roster for
the future in hopes of the franchise getting the go ahead to build
a new ballpark some 40 miles south in San Jose despite the San
Francisco Giants owning the territorial rights to technology-rich
Santa Clara County.
Beane and owner Lew Wolff have said they expect to hear soon
from Commissioner Bud Selig, and Beane said the unsettled stadium
situation would affect him being able to sign his own free agents
The A’s (74-88) haven’t posted a winning record or earned a
playoff berth since being swept in the 2006 AL championship series
The Red Sox missed the playoffs the past two years, but won the
World Series in 2004 and 2007.
“I think every kid playing T-ball out there strives to pitch in
the postseason and meaningful games in September and, ultimately,
the World Series,” Bailey said. “So I’m going to welcome that
with open arms.”
On Dec. 14, Boston traded for Houston closer Mark Melancon, who
had 20 saves last year in 71 relief outings but may be a setup man
“We believe both are fully capable of (closing),” Red Sox
general manager Ben Cherington said. “Bailey’s been doing it for a
little bit longer so perhaps he goes in with the leg up.”
Sweeney is in the mix for Boston’s right field job now that J.D.
Drew is a free agent. He’s an outstanding fielder who can play all
three spots. In six seasons, he has a .283 batting average after
hitting .265 with one homer and 25 RBIs in 264 at bats last season.
Reddick, who began last season at Triple-A Pawtucket before
being promoted in late May, will look to fill a big void in
Oakland’s open outfield.
The 24-year-old Reddick batted .280 with seven homers and 28
RBIs in 87 games for Boston in 2011. He can play any outfield spot
and likely will get immediate action for the A’s, who already lost
outfielders David DeJesus and Josh Willingham in free agency.
Center fielder Coco Crisp isn’t expected to return either.
At last summer’s trade deadline, the A’s and Red Sox were near
completion on a deal that would have sent Oakland right-hander Rich
Harden to Boston for Triple-A first baseman Lars Anderson, but it
fell through late because of Harden’s lengthy list of injury
Former Red Sox pitching coach Curt Young returned to the A’s
this offseason to work under manager Bob Melvin.
Head, a first baseman, batted .299 with 22 home runs and 82 RBIs
in 129 games with the Red Sox two Single-A affiliates, at
Greenville and Salem.
The right-handed Alcantara, 19, combined for a 1-4 record and a
2.20 ERA in 13 starts with Single-A Lowell and the Red Sox
affiliate in the Gulf Coast League. He struck out 50 and walked
just 12 while holding opponents to a .208 batting average.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)