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Back end of bullpen potentially dominant


FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The seeds of a potentially dominant back-end bullpen unit were on display at Red Sox camp on Saturday, with Joel Hanrahan, Andrew Bailey and Daniel Bard all throwing live batting practice sessions on the back fields.

The Red Sox are hoping for bounce-back seasons from Bailey, now fully recovered from last season's thumb surgery, and Bard, now locked into a relief role after last season's unsuccessful starting bid. Hanrahan comes aboard after two All-Star seasons as the Pirates' closer.

"We have a lot of closers here," Bailey said. "Or guys who can close."

Bard is a subject of particular fascination, given his travails in 2012. Manager John Farrell said he wants to see Bard stay aggressive with his pitches, even in live BP. General manager Ben Cherington stressed that Bard should simply be viewed as one of the guys.

"One of the things we've talked with Daniel about is, let's not make this a story every day," Cherington said. "He's a healthy pitcher getting ready for the season. I understand what happened last year, so he's of interest. But there's a lot of other guys just like him, getting ready for the season, and he's back in a role that should be comfortable to him."

The depth of bullpen options in camp isn't likely to coerce Cherington and Farrell to carry 13 pitchers and only 12 position players on the Opening Day roster.

"You can't rule it out," Cherington said. "But especially with David [Ortiz] on the team, we've always felt our team works better with 12 pitchers. We've carried 13 at times, due to extenuating circumstances."

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