If Joel Hanrahan can do for the Boston Red Sox what he did against them, they should be very happy with their new closer.
In the first of his two all-star seasons, the right-hander posted back-to-back saves for the Pittsburgh Pirates with perfect ninth innings against the Red Sox in June 2011. He struck out Adrian Gonzalez, who entered the series batting .359, to end the second game.
"When people look back on me as a Pirate, that's the one that stands out the most to them," Hanrahan said Wednesday after being obtained in a six-player trade.
People such as Red Sox assistant general manager Brian O'Halloran.
"It definitely made an impression on me," he said. "It was not fun to be in the batter's box against Joel Hanrahan."
Now American League hitters will see what it's like.
Boston completed the deal Wednesday, also receiving infielder Brock Holt. The Red Sox gave up right-handers Mark Melancon and Stolmy Pimentel, infielder Ivan DeJesus Jr. and first baseman-outfielder Jerry Sands.
The Red Sox also announced the signing of free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, who agreed to a one-year contract early last week. That reported $9.5 million US deal was contingent on the former Oakland Athletic and Arizona Diamondback, who broke his ankle in 2011, passing a physical.
"We feel that he's going to be fully healthy for us," O'Halloran said.
The acquisition of Drew and Hanrahan are the latest in a series of moves designed to improve on a 69-93 record and a last-place finish in the AL East. The Red Sox already have obtained right-handers Ryan Dempster and Koji Uehara, outfielders Shane Victorino and Johnny Gomes and catcher David Ross.
Over the past two seasons, Hanrahan had 76 saves, fourth most in the National League, and a 2.24 ERA. Last season, he was 5-2 with a 2.72 ERA and 36 saves.
The six-year veteran will take over the closer's role that Alfredo Aceves struggled in most of last season before giving way to Andrew Bailey, who had missed most of the season with a right thumb injury.
In his first season with Boston, Bailey was 1-1 with a 7.04 ERA and six saves in nine opportunities over 19 games.
Manager John Farrell has talked with Hanrahan and Bailey and told them that Hanrahan will be the closer, although "we see Andrew as playing a very important role," O'Halloran said.
The Red Sox's search for a closer began when Jonathan Papelbon signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies after the 2011 season.
Hanrahan figured he was part of that quest when he heard his name in trade rumours involving the Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Dodgers.
"I got excited" when he learned of the trade, Hanrahan said. "Obviously, the Red Sox have a great history and tradition and it's a huge sports city."
In six seasons, 2 ½ with the Washington Nationals and 3 1/2 with the Pirates, he's 22-17 with a 3.74 ERA and 96 saves in 117 chances. His best season was 2011 when he went 1-4 with a 1.83 ERA, 40 saves in 44 opportunities and just 16 walks in 68 2-3 innings. His control slipped last season when he walked 36 in 59 2-3 innings.
Hanrahan said hamstring and ankle problems affected his pitching mechanics.
"I don't think the walks are going to be a concern," he said. "I feel good going to spring training."
Hanrahan said he's never been to Fenway Park, but O'Halloran doesn't think he'll have trouble adjusting to the American League.
"Joel Hanrahan has the stuff to pitch anywhere," he said.
Holt spent most of last season at Double-A Altoona, then hit .292 in 24 games with the Pirates, all in September.
Melancon was 0-2 with a 6.20 ERA in 41 relief appearances in his only season with Boston. Pimentel spent the season at Double-A Portland. Sands and DeJesus were obtained in a trade that sent Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers on Aug. 25.
Mariners sign Raul Ibanez
The Seattle Mariners officially announced their $2.75 million, one-year deal with outfielder Raul Ibanez on Wednesday, returning the veteran to where he began his major league career in 1996.
Seattle confirmed an agreement with Ibanez over the weekend but needed to clear a roster spot before making the transaction official. That took place when the Mariners designated for assignment right-handed pitcher D.J. Mitchell, opening a spot on the 40-man roster. Mitchell was acquired from the New York Yankees in the trade last July for Ichiro Suzuki.
The deal allows Ibanez to earn an additional $1.25 million in performance bonuses. This will be his third stint with the Mariners, after rejoining them from 2004-08.
"Raul is the ultimate professional both on and off the field," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said in a statement. "His veteran presence will be invaluable to our younger group of players."
Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik has said the team wanted to add veteran leadership in the off-season. The 40-year-old Ibanez hit .240 with 19 homers and 62 RBIs in 384 at-bats for the Yankees last season.
Including the playoffs, Ibanez hit five home runs that tied the score for the Yankees and eight that put New York ahead, according to STATS.
Whether there's another season of production left in Ibanez's bat is uncertain. He'll be joining the worst offensive team in baseball, which has tried to make incremental upgrades during the off-season but has been unable to make a huge splash.
Seattle last week added power-hitting Kendrys Morales in a trade that sent left-hander Jason Vargas to the Los Angeles Angels. Former Yankees prospect Jesus Montero started 77 games at designated hitter last season for the Mariners and 55 behind the plate, so Ibanez's acquisition by the Mariners could make catcher John Jaso expendable.
"In Raul we have a player and person with outstanding leadership skills who has participated in post-season play the last several years," Zduriencik said. "We will give Raul the opportunity to come in and compete and add an additional veteran presence to this ball club."
In 17 major league seasons that also included time with Kansas City (2001-03) and Philadelphia (2009-11), Ibanez has a .278 career average with 271 home runs and 1,116 RBIs.
Pierzynski, Rangers complete 1-year deal
A.J. Pierzynski can joke with Texas manager Ron Washington about last season's All-Star snub now that he's the starting catcher for the Rangers.
They shared a laugh over lunch a few days before Wednesday's announcement that Pierzynski's one-year free agent contract with Texas was complete. Both considered the All-Star issue dead after it happened in July, even though Pierzynski had a cryptic retort when Washington explained the difficulty of the decision.
"Everybody keeps trying to make a big deal out of it, but I've known Wash for a really long time," Pierzynski said. "It's not going to change the way I feel about Ron Washington because I know what he's done in this game and I know where he stands and what he's all about. It's over and done with for me."
Washington said Pierzynski will be the primary catcher, pushing Geovany Soto to the backup role after he re-signed as a free agent. Pierzynski hit .278 with a career-high 27 home runs in 135 games for the Chicago White Sox, while Soto took a pay cut after hitting .196 in 47 games following a trade with the Chicago Cubs.
Pierzynski, a two-time All-Star who has been to the playoffs four times and won the 2005 World Series with the White Sox, has long been known as an irritant to opposing players and even someone who didn't always please his teammates either. Washington says he always felt otherwise.
"I always loved him; I never hated him," Washington said. "I always loved him because he always believed he did anything and everything he had to do to try to beat you. I admired that."
Pierzynski is a .284 career hitter in 1,629 games with the White Sox (2005-12), San Francisco (2004) and Minnesota (1998-2003). He could also play some designated hitter. He caught 121 games last year, leads and all active players with 1,559 games as a catcher and doesn't see a need to slow down even though he turns 36 on Sunday.
"Physically, I feel awesome," said Pierzynski, who matched his career high with 77 RBIs last season. "Mentally, I'm as good as I've ever been. I always joke that I have to thank my mom and dad because they gave me good genes as far as health goes."
To make room for Pierzynski on the 40-man roster, the Rangers designated catcher Luis Martinez for assignment.