DETROIT — The season is not yet half over and the Red Sox have their third closer. It’s righthander Koji Uehara, who was selected to replace Andrew Bailey on Friday.
Uehara laughed when asked how long he expected to keep the job.
“I’m assuming two or three days,” he said via interpreter C.J. Matsumoto.
It certainly hasn’t been a very secure job since the Red Sox let Jonathan Papelbon walk out the door as a free agent following the 2011 season.
Bailey was supposed to close last season but spent the first 4½ months on the disabled list following thumb surgery. Alfredo Aceves had the job then lost it to Bailey.
Bailey was bounced over the winter when the Sox traded for Joel Hanrahan. He pitched poorly and Bailey got the job back, seemingly for good when Hanrahan underwent season-ending elbow surgery.
But Bailey faltered, blowing three saves in his last five chances. The latest came Thursday when he inherited a 3-2 lead in the ninth inning against the Tigers. A walk and a home run by Jhonny Peralta followed.
“Feel like Andrew needs to kind of back out and get some opportunities where he gets a little momentum,” manager John Farrell said. “We did this before with he and Joel as well. Other players go through stretches where things aren’t happening for them. So that’s our approach right now.”
The 38-year-old Uehara has pitched well in a setup role, allowing 19 hits over 30 innings and striking out 42. He was Baltimore’s closer for part of the 2010 season and saved 13 games. He also closed for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan in 2007.
“I’m not going to change anything. I’m going to do my best and just go about my business,” Uehara said.
Farrell said experience was the deciding factor in choosing Uehara over Andrew Miller or Junichi Tazawa. Miller finished Friday’s 10-6 victory, allowing one run in the ninth.
“We’re very confident when [Uehara] walks to the mound. He’s been very good for us. He’s had success in closing opportunities previous,” Farrell said. “There’s an element of not only dependability but success in the past.”
The Red Sox have said since spring training that Uehara needs to be regularly rested to be effective. Farrell’s goal was not to use him on consecutive days, although that has happened on six occasions and Uehara has not allowed a run.
“Hopefully we have save opportunities every night,” Farrell said. “If he’s not available, we have confidence that it could be Junichi, it could be Andrew Miller and in time Andrew Bailey.”
The news was not unexpected and Bailey handled it well.
“I don’t think it’s a permanent thing,” he said. “Anything can happen and I’m fully aware of that. I feel like it’s my job and I’ll be back in there. I need to know the ball like I know I can.”
Bailey has allowed seven runs on eight hits (four home runs) and five walks in his last four innings.
“One bad week doesn’t ruin the whole year. There’s a lot of games left,” Bailey said. “I know I’m going to throw that last pitch this year.”
Farrell said he is confident Bailey will again pitch meaningful innings this season.
The Red Sox, for now, are comfortable with their bullpen depth. But Farrell said general manager Ben Cherington could look for an upgrade via trade.
It was a tough day for closers in Detroit. The Tigers designated Jose Valverde for assignment. He had a 5.59 ERA and had blown three saves in 12 attempts.
Detroit recalled righthander Al Albuquerque from Triple A Toledo to replace Valverde. They also put outfielder Matt Tuiasosopo on the disabled list with a strained rib cage muscle and recalled outfielder Avisail Garcia from Toledo.
David Ross was diagnosed with his second concussion of the season and has been shut down indefinitely. He will return to his home in Florida to recover.
“Because there’s two within a short period of time, we’ve got to be extra cautious,” Farrell said.
Head trauma specialist Dr. Michael Collins examined Ross at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center on Thursday. Ross will see him again in early July.
Ryan Lavarnway will back up Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Righthander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, a Cuban defector soon expected to be declared a free agent, pitched for major league executives and scouts on Thursday in Tijuana, Mexico.
According to Fox Sports, Cherington was the only general manager to attend. Nearly every team was represented, however.
Gonzalez, 26, played in Cuba’s top league for several years and was a member of their national team. But he missed much of the last two seasons serving a suspension related to an earlier attempt at defecting.
“I played with him in Havana for two years. He’s very good,” Jose Iglesias said. “I think he could succeed in the big leagues.”
Four more signed
The Red Sox acknowledged signing four more draft picks, including third-round selection Jon Denney, a high school catcher from Yukon, Okla. Denney received a bonus of $875,000, well above the assigned value of $671,200 for the 81st overall pick. Denney was considered one of the top catchers in the draft but fell because of financial concerns.
The Red Sox also signed lefthanders Corey Littrell (fifth round), Jake Drehoff (12th round), and Gabe Speier (19th round) along with outfielder Jordon Austin (sixth round).
The Sox have confirmed signing 16 of their 40 picks. But they have agreed to terms with second-round pick Teddy Stankiewicz, a junior college righthander.
The Tigers signed their second-round pick, lefthander Kevin Ziomek from Amherst, Mass. Ziomek pitched at Vanderbilt.
Farrell said this week Will Middlebrooks would play the first two games in Detroit. But he was out of the lineup for the third time in four games because the Sox want to keep Iglesias in the lineup. Middlebrooks is 4 of 29 since coming off the disabled list and down to .192 for the season. “We’ve got that internal competition that I’m responding to,” Farrell said . . . Righthander Clayton Mortensen has started a rehab assignment with Triple A Pawtucket. He was placed on the disabled list June 11 with what the team said was a groin strain . . . The Red Sox promoted third baseman Garin Cecchini to Double A Portland. A fourth-round pick in 2010, Cecchini hit .350 with a 1.016 OPS for Single A Salem with 33 RBIs over 63 games . . . Longtime Tigers pitcher Dan Petry, who briefly played for the Red Sox in 1991, will join Don Orsillo in the NESN booth on Sunday.