Bailey won't back down from anyone

Bailey won't back down from anyone

Bailey won't back down from anyone
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Unlike the boisterous Jonathan Papelbon, whose presence could usually be felt from well beyond 60 feet and six inches, Andrew Bailey, the man who replaces him as the Red Sox's closer, exudes a quieter confidence.

Though you aren't likely to see Bailey do the type of gyrating fist pump Papelbon would do at the end of a game, and you probably won't see him celebrating on the Fenway sod in boxer briefs during a clinch celebration, the results in the ninth inning might wind up being fairly similar.

And that's a good thing for the Red Sox.

"Pap's obviously himself. I've met him a couple times, and he's a good dude," Bailey said at the club's Spring Training complex Saturday, the day before pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report. "He's moved on. We're two totally different pitchers. My goal is to have you guys ask the guy who follows me those questions. 'How are you going to replace Bailey?' If I stick with that, I'm sure I'll be all right."

Coincidentally, Papelbon also held his first media briefing at the Phillies' camp on Saturday. And one of the things Boston's old closer did was give a vote of confidence to his successor.

"He's going to have to be able to play his own game. Andrew, he's got all the talent in the world," Papelbon said. "He should be able to thrive in that environment."

In this day and age, where quotes are tweeted within minutes of leaving a player's mouth, Papelbon's general message was relayed to an appreciative Bailey.

"He's one of the best in the game, so it's an honor coming from him, something like that," said Bailey. "He's done it here for a while, he knows what it takes. I'm looking forward to having those 40,000 on my side running out of the bullpen instead of rooting against me. Coming out of the bullpen is always an adrenaline rush. I'm looking forward to doing it in that uniform."

Papelbon's charge from the Fenway bullpen was accompanied by the Dropkick Murphy's "Shipping Up to Boston." What will they play for Bailey?

"For me, I like to feed off the crowd, the adrenaline, so if I get to choose, it will probably be something rock, maybe throw a little Boston twist in there with Aerosmith or something," said Bailey. "We'll see -- maybe Godsmack or something."

Ultimately, the Fenway faithful will love Bailey's taste in music as long as he is getting the job done in the ninth.

A two-time All-Star, Bailey has had a highly successful first three seasons in the Majors. Health is his primary objective, as injuries limited him to 47 games in 2010 and 42 last year. The Red Sox are looking for somewhere around the 68 games Bailey appeared in while winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award in '09.

"Health is good," Bailey said. "I finished strong last year. Obviously I had a little battle. I had to miss two months at the beginning of last year. That's behind me, and this was honestly the first healthy offseason I've had in the big leagues. I was able to start throwing a little early."

While the move from Oakland to Boston could be unsettling for a lot of players, Bailey, who has lived in the Northeast his whole life -- first New Jersey, now Connecticut -- seems right at home.

"It's the best division in baseball and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to play in it," Bailey said. "That's all you can ask for. Growing up in New Jersey and now Connecticut, I know from a fan's perspective how they live and die by it. I'm looking forward to that opportunity and doing the best I can."

And when the Red Sox have off-days during a homestand, he will be able to go home.

"It's going to be great, being two hours away from home, just enough to [annoy you] that you're not able to sleep in your own bed every night," Bailey said. "It's going to be good. Off-days, day games, you can go home, have some dinner with the family, hang out. Going to school in Staten Island, I have a lot more buddies who are now Red Sox fans. I've been getting a lot of jokes and phone calls about that."

While Bailey clearly won't be the most overpowering closer to pitch for the Red Sox -- the late Dick Radatz and Papelbon are in the debate in that category -- he won't back down from anyone.

"I have that mentality of being aggressive. I live and die by [the fact that] strike one is the best pitch in baseball," Bailey said. "I try to go out there, throw the ball as hard as I can. There's nothing fancy about what I do. That's my mentality. I think that fits the closer's role pretty good. I throw fastball, cutter, curveball. I keep a changeup in my back pocket if I need it, but I don't like to get beat on that pitch too much."

Bailey's enthusiasm for his new challenge is obvious.

"I'm excited to be here -- obviously -- in an organization that has a proven history of winning and contending every year," Bailey said. "It's nice to be around the guys and get to know them here early. I'm looking forward to a good year."

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.