FORT MYERS, Fla. -- New Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan would much rather get outs in Spring Training than have days like Thursday, when he only retired one of the six batters he faced before being lifted in midinning by manager John Farrell.
Then again, Hanrahan would much rather struggle under the Grapefruit League sun than that glaring spotlight that comes with playing games for the Red Sox when the games start counting in April.
The righty's outing in the Red Sox's 12-5 win against the Twins went like this: Walk, single, single, single, single, strikeout. Well, at least it ended on a positive note.
"I felt like the ball was coming out of my hand pretty good. I'm still missing that little notch of life to it, but that's something that comes with Spring Training," Hanrahan said. "Fortunately I kept the ball down or else there would have been a couple more hit on that Six Mile Cypress [Parkway] out there. Fortunately I was able to keep the ball down. I was just missing in the middle. Unfortunately it was an ugly, ugly day."
At least during the games not much pretty has happened for Hanrahan this spring. He did pitch a scoreless inning against Northeastern University, but he's still waiting for his first clean outing against a Major League team. In four Grapefruit League games, Hanrahan has logged three innings, giving up six hits and seven runs (four earned).
"I obviously can benefit from it knowing that I need to get better, knowing that I've got to get better with my delivery," Hanrahan said. "I know I was coming open a little bit sometimes. I did get a couple balls inside on some guys for some swings, but I haven't been putting guys away."
Fortunately for Hanrahan, he has gone through this before. In Spring Training 2011, after Pirates manager Clint Hurdle had named him the team's new closer, the righty struggled mightily. He responded by having what is, to date, the best season of his career.
"People were calling for my head," said Hanrahan. "I think I went out and I was giving up a couple of runs every game and was having a terrible spring, and then that last week to 10 days, it kind of came back to me."
Hanrahan fully expects the same thing to happen again, once he has a life-altering event. The closer will fly home on Sunday and leave camp for a few days to witness the birth of his first child, a boy.
"I've got to take it like I've got two Spring Trainings," Hanrahan said. "This one's been good so far, but when I come back, I've got to put my foot down and start getting some people out."
Because the city Hanrahan is pitching for is Boston, there are bound to be some people back north who are worried about the Grapefruit League numbers they are seeing from the new closer.
At this juncture, Hanrahan isn't even close to panicking.
"I'm not concerned about it; I don't think [pitching coach] Juan [Nieves] is concerned about it," Hanrahan said. "Obviously it's different, because we're all new to each other, but I think we'll be fine."
Count Farrell in the "unconcerned" category.
"Good stuff," said Farrell. "A number of fastballs found the middle of the plate. They put some good swings on them. I think the most important thing is he doesn't have to be perfect. He's got very good stuff, but when he tried to overthrow a little bit, sometimes some fastballs came back toward the middle of the plate."