ANAHEIM -- For the ninth straight game, Minor League veteran Jeff Bailey arrived to the ballpark and saw his name in the lineup card. With Kevin Youkilis on the disabled list, Bailey has been getting all of the playing time at first base.
For a 30-year-old who began his Minor League career in 1997 and had just 30 games of experience in the Majors before this season, it has been fun for Bailey to get out there on a consistent basis.
What he wants now are some hits. Bailey, whom the Red Sox have long regarded for his professional approach at the plate, took a .175 average into Thursday's game. He is 5-for-29 since Youkilis went down.
"I'm having a good time. I wish I could do a little better. But that's the way it goes," Bailey said. "I'm not trying to do too much. It's just the way it is sometimes. It's not like I feel terrible or anything. I feel fine. I'll do what I can to help the team win until Youk gets back."
Manager Terry Francona, who has gotten to know Bailey well while managing him the past several Spring Trainings, has always been a fan. That hasn't changed even if Bailey is searching for hits.
"I think Bails, you know, he's fine," Francona said. "You know what you get out of Bails. You get a consistent effort. Like in Spring Training, he hit about .400 and everybody was like, 'This guy is great.' Now he's hitting [under] .200 or whatever. We think he's good. Sometimes guys get put in there for a week and if they get hot, great. If they don't, it doesn't mean they can't hit.
"But he has good at-bats. He's made the plays. I think it's pretty obvious that we are comfortable with him because we're playing him."
And that is what Bailey appreciates more than anything.
"[Francona's] not searching around," Bailey said. "That's kind of a nice deal for them to have confidence in me."
With five games left until Youkilis is eligible to come off the disabled list, Bailey hopes to reward Francona's confidence. He's enjoyed getting into a steady flow of at-bats.
"I think it's good. I'm more relaxed," Bailey said. "Everything is comfortable now. There's no nerves. It's good. I'd like to get a few hits and get the batting average back over .200. All it takes is one good game."
Bailey has played 1,123 games at the Minor League level, belting 158 homers.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.