DETROIT — Alfredo Aceves, the former Yankee castoff who had a bounce-back season in 2011 with the Red Sox, will open the season as Boston’s closer, manager Bobby Valentine announced Wednesday.
Aceves has four career saves, including two with the Red Sox last season. He had spent the spring competing for a spot in the starting rotation, but with newly acquired closer Andrew Bailey undergoing surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb, Valentine reversed course.
“He loves competition,” Valentine said when asked why he selected Aceves. “He’s one of the best competitors I’ve seen. I could be wrong. I haven’t seen him up close and personal in battle. But he’s a very good competitor, to say nothing of being a very good pitcher.”
Daniel Bard, who played a key setup role in Boston’s bullpen last season, was converted to a starter this spring and the Red Sox have ruled out moving him back to the bullpen. Mark Melancon was another possibility to close, having recording 20 saves last season with the Houston Astros. When Aceves is not available, Valentine said he will turn to Melancon.
The manager also mentioned Aceves’ familiarity with the American League as a factor in his decision.
Valentine said the Red Sox will carry 13 pitchers to start the season, “just in case.”
“I don’t expect we’ll have 13 the entire season,” Valentine added.
The rotation will consist of Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront and Bard. The eight pitchers starting the season in the bullpen will be Aceves, Melancon, Padilla, Thomas, Atchison, Matt Albers, Franklin Morales and Michael Bowden.
The club will carry two catchers — Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach — five infielders — Mike Aviles, Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia, Nick Punto and Kevin Youkilis — four outfielders — Jacoby Ellsbury, Cody Ross, Ryan Sweeney and Darnell McDonald — and designated hitter David Ortiz.
Red Sox say Aceves will close with Bailey out
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