Bailey takes step forward, close to returning

Bailey takes step forward, close to returning

Bailey takes step forward, close to returning
CLEVELAND -- Injured reliever Andrew Bailey pitched well in back-to-back appearances for Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday and Thursday, and he may be nearing a return to the big leagues.

Bailey allowed one hit and struck out two in a scoreless inning of work on Thursday afternoon. He pitched a 1-2-3 frame and struck out one in his appearance on Wednesday. Bailey consistently worked in the low 90s on Thursday, but he touched 94 mph. He is scheduled to pitch again for Pawtucket on Sunday.

"He had good velocity," manager Bobby Valentine said of the evaluation he received. "They liked his cutter, he threw a curveball or two. ... That's pretty good."

Bailey hasn't pitched this season after suffering a right thumb injury on a freak play during Spring Training. Bailey, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the A's, was projected to be Boston's closer this season, but when he was hurt, the job went to Alfredo Aceves.

"I feel real close," Bailey told Boston radio station WEEI. "I'm just kind of going along with the process here. ... It's been a long season, and it's not over yet. We've got some ballgames to win. I can't wait to join the guys and get some W's."

In five rehab appearances for Pawtucket and Double-A Portland, Bailey has allowed only one run in five innings, while striking out nine and walking one. Valentine said he would look at the data collected during Bailey's appearances after he pitches on Sunday before making a decision on whether to call him up.

Bailey had a 3.24 ERA and 24 saves in 42 appearances for Oakland last season.