Andrew Bailey Nearing Rehab Assignment

OAKLAND, CA: Andrew Bailey #40 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Andrew Bailey hasn't thrown a pitch in a game this year for Boston, at least not one that didn't take place in spring training. That could all change soon, though, as Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine says that Bailey is about a week away from a rehab assignment, meaning he's progressing in his bullpen sessions and nearly ready to rejoin Boston.

Bailey is set to throw batting practice on Wednesday in Arlington before the Red Sox/Rangers tilt that day, this following a weekend bullpen session that went without any problems. The next time he throws might very well be with a minor-league affiliate as he works his way back. Bailey believes -- and he's no doctor, but it's worth mentioning -- that he will need somewhere between 5-to-7 relief appearances before coming back, with a few of those likely coming in a row to test him before committing him to the majors once more.

Bailey owns a career ERA of 2.04, with a strikeout per inning and a 3.6 K/BB supporting that. The fact he is nearing his return likely means that there could be a Red Sox reliever dealt by the July 31 deadline in order to clear room in the bullpen, on the 40-man roster, and on the big-league one. It's unknown at this time if he'll automatically assume his expected role as closer, but it wouldn't be surprising, given current stopper Alfredo Aceves' ability to throw multiple innings at a time.

Aceves has been successful in his stead, with a 3.82 ERA and a league-leading 42 games finished. He's also been much better since a rocky start, posting a a 2.56 ERA and 2.9 K/BB in his last 40 appearances, so the argument is there for him to finish out the year as closer, but it's just not a given considering he can be utilized in other ways, whereas Bailey is likely a better fit for the ninth in terms of usage patterns, especially coming off of injury and with his past.

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