TORONTO — Joel Hanrahan returned to the Red Sox Tuesday when he was activated off the disabled list. But his old job was not waiting for him.
The Sox will stick with Andrew Bailey as their closer. Hanrahan got the news when he met with manager John Farrell before a 9-7 loss against the Blue Jays.
Hanrahan was out for 16 days because of a strained right hamstring and the Sox wanted to ease the righthander back in with some lower-leverage opportunities at first, although he pitched the eighth inning Tuesday night.
“Bailey’s been doing a heck of a job,” Hanrahan said. “I told [Farrell] that I’m comfortable with whatever you want to do. The way the team is playing right now, I just want to fit in and do my part to help. I’m just excited to be back.”
Hanrahan allowed a run in the eighth on two hits.
“I felt fine,” he said. “It’ll come. I’m not worried about it.”
Hanrahan was nearly perfect in his first three appearances this season. But he gave up six runs on five hits and four walks in the three outings that followed. That led to his being placed on the disabled list.
Bailey has converted five of six save chances since becoming the closer. Through Sunday, he had allowed only two runs on six hits over 12⅓ innings and struck out 20.
In December, when the Sox acquired Hanrahan from the Pirates, Bailey was demoted to the eighth inning. Bailey did not complain at the time of the trade but made it clear he wanted a chance to close. Now, again, the job is his.
“I knew what my job going into the season would be. Things change, man. A lot of times, whether it’s an injury or whatever, roles change,” Bailey said.
With the Sox in first place and Bailey pitching so well, Hanrahan was in no position to challenge the decision.
“I just want to be one of the 25 guys helping us win,” he said. “The way that we’re playing right now, I’m not trying to stir any controversy.”
Said Farrell: “The one thing that Joel is is a very good teammate. He’s understanding and sees what’s been happening here and how well Andrew has pitched. Hopefully there’s opportunity for both guys to close out games.”
Hanrahan feels his three poor outings were a direct result of the hamstring injury changing the mechanics of his delivery.
“I definitely think the hammy kind of affected that,” he said. “You’re talking about your back leg. You put a lot of weight on your back leg to start your delivery and then you’re pushing off with that leg. It didn’t affect my velocity but it affected the way I finished pitches and how I went through my delivery. I feel good with it now.”
Bailey was a two-time All-Star closing for Oakland. Hanrahan did the same with Pittsburgh.
“Having two guys down there with closer experience like we do really helps us out,” Bailey said. “Whether I need a day, [Hanrahan] needs a day, guys can fill in. Having everybody on the same page is key.”
Said Hanrahan: “We’ll see where it plays out.”
Victorino out again
Shane Victorino took batting practice in the cage, hitting balls off a tee, and did some light exercising. But he was not in the lineup for the fifth consecutive game because of a strained lower back and is unlikely to play in this series.
“There is some improvement continuing to be made,” Farrell said.
By Thursday, Farrell indicated, the Sox will decide whether to place Victorino on the DL [retroactive to April 25] or allow him to play vs. Texas. The plan is to add to his workload each day here.
“We get through this series and find out where he’s at, whether he’s back on the field at some point in this [next] series or depending on how many days are needed at that point,” Farrell said. “That’s probably the threshold where we might have to adjust.”
Victorino has not spoken to the media for several days. After the game, he hid in a hallway after showering and had a clubhouse attendant bring him his clothes from his locker to avoid reporters.
The Sox want to avoid what happened to the Yankees with Kevin Youkilis. He missed six games with a back injury, played in one game and aggravated it, and Tuesday was placed on the DL.
Now that NBA player Jason Collins has announced he is gay, it seems to be a matter of time before a baseball player does the same. Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks believes the sport will handle the news gracefully.
“The world is changing,” he said. “For me personally, I don’t care. If you’re here and you’re a good teammate and you’re helping us win, that’s all I care about. What you do off the field is none of my business.
“I feel like people should be themselves and not have to hide. Just lead your life.”
Long time coming
Ryan Dempster, a native of Sechelt, British Columbia, is scheduled to start Thursday. It will be his first appearance in Canada since April 2, 2002 when he faced the Montreal Expos at Olympic Stadium while a member of the Florida Marlins. Dempster is 5-0 pitching in Canada . . . The Jays will start lefthander J.A. Happ Thursday. Righthander Josh Johnson is being skipped because of a triceps strain . . . Daniel Bard allowed two runs on two hits and a walk for Portland in his first game with the Sea Dogs after being demoted by the Sox . . . Wednesday’s game will be on NESN Plus because the Bruins playoff game will be on NESN.
Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com.