When Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle made Joel Hanrahan his closer before the 2011 season, the decision was not met with universal acclaim, especially when Hanrahan was lit up in spring training.

"People were calling for my head," Hanrahan said. "I think I went out and I was giving up home runs every game. I was having a terrible spring."

He imagines that the reaction this spring back in New England isn't much different, given the early returns: nine runs (six earned) in three outings, including a four-run shellacking Thursday that began with a walk and was followed by four straight hits before he fanned his last batter. Heck, even the college team, Northeastern, scored a run off Hanrahan this spring.

"They're probably not having a lot of fun," Hanrahan said, referring to his new fan base. "They probably don't like me quite yet.

"It's nothing I'm too worried about. All you got to do to win them back is go into New York and get a couple of saves, I think they'll be all right."

That awful spring (0-2, 6.75 ERA, 3 home runs in 10 2/3 innings) Hanrahan had in Pittsburgh? Quickly forgotten after he registered four saves in the Pirates' first six games, had eight saves by the end of April, was named to the All-Star team in July, and as late as Aug. 15 had an earned run average of 1.01.

He finished the season with 40 saves, and followed that with 36 saves and another All-Star appearance in 2012. Immediately after his trade from Pittsburgh, Hanrahan was anointed Boston Red Sox closer by manager John Farrell, who learned during his time in Toronto that it's preferable to name a closer rather than holding an open competition in camp. Farrell tried that in 2011, his first season with the Jays, and wound up with an erratic triple option of Octavio Dotel, Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco.