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Bailey gives thumbs up for return

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Mark Melancon threw just 10 pitches before Bobby Valentine came out with the hook Thursday.

DETROIT - Andrew Bailey said the right thumb injury that will cost him much of this season left him angry because of its random nature, but has not diminished his will to help the Red Sox return to the postseason.

The righthander had surgery Wednesday to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb and will not return until after the All-Star break.

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The news was crushing when Bailey heard it.

“I went through the phases of being frustrated and all that kind of stuff,’’ Bailey said during a conference call. “It is what it is and I’ve got to deal with it. I can’t pitch with it.’’

Dr. Thomas Graham, who performed the surgery in Cleveland, told Bailey his ligament did not require total reconstruction, a good sign for his recovery.

“Talking with the doctor, I’m fairly confident I’ll be back before the end of the year and help this team get to the playoffs and win a World Series. That’s still a goal, man. The goal doesn‘t change,’’ Bailey said.

Bailey will wear a soft cast for two weeks before switching to a brace. The rehab process will begin soon after that.

The injury occurred March 21 when Bailey collided with Josh Pressley of the Pirates while covering first base.

“It’s not really a throwing injury, it’s just trying to be an athlete and cover first base and do something. It’s just one of those freak things,’’ Bailey said.

“I really didn’t think anything of it for a couple of days,’’ he said. “I felt a little weakness in my thumb, a little achiness. Looking back, I could have spoke up then. But maybe it was just a little something or whatever. I went out and pitched the next couple of times and it didn’t feel great, but each and every time out it kind of got worse and worse.’’

Bailey pitched 1 2/3 innings in a minor league game March 28 and was unable to grip a ball without pain the next day.

“That’s when I was like, ‘We’ve got to get on top of this thing.’ It was obviously too late by then,’’ said Bailey, who believes the ligament was torn before he tried to pitch again. “I was hoping maybe there was an option to take care of it after the season or kind of deal with some pain during the season and still be effective. But the fact of the matter was there was no option like that and we had to repair the ligament.’’

Bailey has been a frequent visitor to the disabled list in recent seasons, but appeared to have overcome his issues when the Red Sox acquired him from Oakland in December.

“I’m obviously frustrated and disappointed,’’ he said. “Trying to get off on the right start here and obviously that’s not where I’m going.

“The focus needs to be on the guys who are on the field and to know that I will be able to make it back this year and the whole season isn’t lost. There’s a lot of good in that . . . Hopefully all these injuries are behind me. Just take care of this one and just keep looking forward. That’s all I can do, is just keep pushing forward, take care of business and get back out there and be ready to rock when the body’s ready to go.’’

Bailey said he would try to be a good teammate while he is out, offering advice to the other pitchers and working on his conditioning. He declined to comment on who he thinks should replace him as closer.

“Bullpens always figure themselves out,’’ he said. “Roles are always changing usually. There are a lot of good arms in that pen. Bobby [Valentine] said [Alfredo] Aceves will be closing right now. He’s got some great stuff . . . The bullpen will be fine. I know they’ll be all right. They’ll hold it down until I get back.

“I know that I’ll be better for it in the long run and come back as good as new and be ready to help this team as soon as the body allows and achieve our goals of winning a World Series. That’s what I’m looking forward to do. Until that point in time, I’m just trying to stay focused.’’

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.
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