Andrew Bailey Nearing Rehab Assignment

OAKLAND, CA: Andrew Bailey #40 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning during an MLB baseball game at Coliseum in Oakland, California. The Athletics won the game 5-1. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

He's not quite there yet, but closer Andrew Bailey is working his way towards a rehab assignment, the last step before joining the Red Sox for the first time since spring training.

Bailey threw six innings this spring, with seven strikeouts, two walks, and a homer allowed, before going down with a thumb injury suffered during a collision at first base with the Pirates' Alex Presley. Bailey tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb, necessitating surgery, and causing him to miss the entirety of the season thus far.

He threw a 20-pitch bullpen session in Tampa Bay on Sunday, though, and is scheduled to for a follow-up session this Wednesday while the Red Sox host the White Sox at Fenway. If all systems are go health-wise, he'll begin a rehab assignment shortly after that, and, according to Bailey, be able to rejoin the Red Sox without going through the entire assignment.

"All that forearm tightness and stuff is behind me, and I'm looking forward to getting back.'' Bailey speaks of the slight delay in his return from surgery, in which he was shut down in order to rest his forearm. In the prior season, while still with the Athletics, Bailey and Oakland didn't pay much attention to his forearm tightness, believing it to be a side effect of off-season surgery. Instead, it cost him the first two months of the 2011 season, and contributed to his appearing in just 42 contests in his last season in Oakland.

While Bailey is just one player, with the way the trade market is setting up this winter, he's likely to be a more significant addition to the Red Sox than anyone that can be acquired at a reasonable cost. Before that happens, the Sox will need to clear space on the 40-man roster in order to move Bailey off of the 60-day DL, but before that happens, he needs to get through these bullpen sessions and a rehab assignment.

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