Joel Hanrahan pitched a grand total of 7.1 innings for the Sox in 2013, with an ignominious 9.82 ERA. After undergoing Tommy John surgery last May, Hanrahan is finally poised to pitch again, just not for the Sox.
The 32 year-old free agent signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Tigers, who are looking to improve their atrocious bullpen, whose collective 5.37 ERA is only better than the quasi-Major League Houston Astros. Still, the date of Hanrahan’s return is a bit murky.
“I don’t want to put a time frame on it and I don’t think [GM]Dave [Dombrowski] does,” Hanrahan said. “I don’t think anybody is saying, ‘You’ve got to be back on June 1.’ I haven’t faced a hitter yet. I haven’t bounced back from throwing in a game, so it’s a situation that will come day by day.”
Hanrahan will begin facing hitters in Lakeland, Florida, the site of the Tigers’ extended spring training program and a very bright and sunny destination compared to dreary Detroit. Since Hanrahan’s base salary will only be $1 million with an extra $2 million available in incentives, the Tigers aren’t going to push Hanrahan to return immediately to the All-Star form he showed for the Pirates in 2011 and 2012.
When the Sox picked Hanrahan up, they must have felt confident that they were getting a closer who could deliver 40 saves a year, considering Hanrahan had recorded 76 saves in his dominant previous two seasons in Pittsburgh. With the emergence of the beloved Koji Uehara, the Sox no longer felt the need at this point to take a risk, even a small one, on Joel Hanrahan.