Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 12/26/12
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The Red Sox have already nipped one problem in the bud. Assistant general manager Brian O’Halloran said during a conference call Wednesday that the plan is for Joel Hanrahan to enter spring training as Boston’s closer. That puts an abrupt end to the debate as to whether the newly acquired Hanrahan or Andrew Bailey would pitch the ninth inning for the Red Sox this season. Manager John Farrell already spoke with both pitchers, according to O’Halloran, and the plan is for Bailey to serve as a setup man. It’s a decision that’s somewhat expected given Hanrahan’s success as Pittsburgh’s closer the past two seasons and Bailey’s inefficiency upon returning from thumb surgery last season, but the quickness of the announcement is somewhat surprising. The Red Sox, of course, officially acquired Hanrahan along with infielder Brock Holt from the Pirates on Wednesday in exchange for Mark Melancon, Stolmy Pimentel, Jerry Sands and Ivan De Jesus. It’s the second significant addition to the Red Sox’ bullpen this offseason, as the club also signed free-agent reliever Koji Uehara to a one-year contract. Hanrahan’s 76 saves over the past two seasons ranked fourth among National League closers. The two-time All-Star joins Braves closer Craig Kimbrel as the only players to collect at least 35 saves and post an ERA under 3.00 in both 2011 and 2012. Bailey, also a two-time All-Star closer with Oakland in 2009 and 2010, posted a 7.04 ERA in 15 1/3 innings over 19 appearances last season. Click here for an opinion on the Hanrahan trade >> Click here to see how Hanrahan and Brock responded to the trade >> Photo via Flickr/Keith Allison

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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