Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan will undergo season-ending surgery, likely late this week, to repair the flexor tendon in his right arm. Recovery time will be 6-9 months.
The possibility also exists that the 31-year-old, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Pirates, might need Tommy John surgery.
Hanrahan was forced to leave Monday’s 6-5 win over the Twins, and was placed on the disabled list the next day. After talking with team doctors, Hanrahan said he was prepared to undergo surgery. Visiting orthopedic surgeon James Andrews reaffirmed it. Andrews will perform the surgery once he returns from vacation, Hanrahan said.
“Initially, I thought there might be a decision to make,” Hanrahan said. “Then after talking with him, he basically walked in, looked at my arm, touched it, and said it really wasn’t a decision. I think the flexor pretty much tore right off the bone. So, it wasn’t really a decision, it was just a matter of what kind of surgery it was going to be, and as of now it’s going to be the flexor. When he gets in there and takes a look, it could be worse, it could be not as bad, but that’s kind of where we’re at right now.
“He’ll look at [the ligament] when he’s in there. On the MRI, he said it looked pretty good. Obviously, nobody wants to just do Tommy John for fun. So, he’s going to go in and look and see if that’s something that needs to be done or not, but as of now it doesn’t need to be. But once he gets his eyes on it, he’ll have a better idea.”
Hanrahan made nine appearances this season, converting four of his six save opportunities while battling hamstring and arm issues. He will be a free agent at the end of the season.
“In a situation like this, you set aside a person’s contract status,” said manager John Farrell. “You try to get the information on how the injury occurred and what’s the best course to take long term. He’s 31 years old, and yes, free agency is pending. You have to do what’s right for the guy and that’s gathering all the information needed. In those conversations you don’t want a short-term solution or quick fix. This is something that hopefully can be taken care of once and that he has a long, productive career following.”
Hanrahan said it was too soon to think about what the surgery meant for his future with the team.
“Hopefully, I get another chance here,” he said. “Maybe try to show the fans here what kind of pitcher I really am. This year had kind of been a wash, now it’s definitely a wash. So, we’ll see where it takes me from there.”
Since Jonathan Papelbon left two years ago as a free agent, the closer role has been a question mark for the Sox. Hanrahan was the latest answer, but with his injuries the Sox have had to call on Andrew Bailey, and now Junichi Tazawa.
Bailey, who went on the DL May 6 (retroactive to April 29) with a right biceps strain, long-tossed from 120 feet Saturday and could throw off a mound this week, Farrell said. His return remains uncertain.
“Things are moving in the right direction,” Bailey said. “Just got to see what tomorrow brings. I haven’t really talked to them about what the plan is for tomorrow, but I felt good today, so I’ll definitely keep progressing.
“As soon as they can allow me to probably throw a flat-ground bullpen session, then get on to a mound and then hopefully get back soon. Right now, everything’s feeling well. These things, they just take time. It [stinks]. For me, it’s just doing the right thing to get back out there.”
It hasn’t been decided whether Bailey will make a rehab appearance.
“At a minimum, we’ll get some [simulated] game action here with us,” Farrell said. “If we feel after that he needs to make [a rehab] appearance, we’ll get a better read on when we get some mound progression.”
Will Middlebrooks is playing with bruised ribs after colliding with catcher David Ross on Tuesday in a game against the Twins.
“He feels it,” Farrell said. “It doesn’t hinder him in any way. He’s finding his way. He knows he’s not going to feel 100 percent physically every day, but there’s some discomfort in the ribs. We’re not putting him in harm’s way. That’s been cleared by the medical staff.”
Middlebrooks had a 4-for-5, three-home run outburst against Toronto April 7, then hit .158 over his next 26 games, striking out 33 times. A 2-for-4 performance in Friday’s series-opening win over the Jays was needed.
“Given the production at the plate, he’s been able to separate that and play very well defensively with the exception of a couple of games,” Farrell said. “I think that’s a sign of a mature young player.”
Farrell had a conversation with Mike Napoli about trying to find offdays for the slugging first baseman. After a 15-game stretch from April 16-May 1 in which he hit .345 with four home runs and 20 RBIs, Napoli has cooled, hitting just .162 over the rest of this month. “Mike has shown the ability to get into very strong streaks and there’s been other times when we’ve got to ride that with him,” Farrell said. “I think what he’s going through is not something new to him, and yet with [Sunday] being another day game and Monday being an offday, we’re trying to find ways to get back-to-back days off.” After Monday, the Sox’ next day off isn’t until June 3 . . . The Jays placed outfielder Rajai Davis on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained left oblique . . . Marathon bombing victim Heather Abbott of Newport, R.I., threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.