Astros' Ryan Pressly says he was surprised by demotion but praises new closer Josh Hader

Friday, February 16, 2024
Astros spring training 2024: Manager Joe Espada names Josh Hader as closer, Ryan Pressly moves to an 8th inning role
"Yeah, it was a surprise, but he makes our team better," Ryan Pressly said after his new teammate Josh Hader was appointed as the Astros' new closer for the season. Hader, the five-time All-Star, signed a five-year, $95 million contract on Jan. 22.

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (KTRK) -- In his first comments to reporters since the team signed free agent Josh Hader, Ryan Pressly admits he was surprised the Houston Astros demoted him from the closer role in favor of Hader.

"Yeah, it was a surprise, but he makes our team better,'' Pressly said Thursday in West Palm Beach, Florida. "He's hands-down one of the best relievers in the game. I'm happy he's here and happy to share the bullpen with him. It's going to be a fun time. He seems like a great teammate.''

Hader, a five-time All-Star left-hander who turns 30 on April 7, agreed to a $95 million, five-year contract on Jan. 22. New manager Joe Espada said when spring training opened on Wednesday that Hader would close.

Pressly had 102 saves for the Astros in the last four seasons and finished in the top four in the American League in saves each of those campaigns.

Pressly, a 35-year-old right-hander, has a $14 million salary this year, and the Astros have a $14 million option for 2025 that would become guaranteed if he pitches in 45 games this year and is not on the injured list at the end of the season. Pressly said his preparation won't change as setup man.

"We got a great bullpen, probably one of the best bullpens in the league,'' Pressly said. "I get paid to get three outs, whether it's the fourth inning or the ninth inning. Whenever the phone rings and they tell me to get in there, I'll get in there.''

"It went well,'' Espada said of his meeting with Pressly and Hader, during which he anointed Hader the team's closer. "Both guys want what's best for this team. I think the ultimate goal is to hold the trophy at the end of the year.''

Hader said he spoke with Pressly, a two-time All-Star, around the time of his agreement.

"The goal is to build that relationship and win ballgames," he said. "A lot of things can get stirred up on the outside and paint a picture that's not it. But for him and I, we've had a great relationship so far, and (we) continue to build off that.''

"Ultimately, in the game of baseball, roles are very important,'' Hader added. "We have routines. When you're able to get into that routine and knowing what you have to accomplish, you can perform better because you know what you have to do.''

SEE ALSO: Astros open 2024 spring training with Verlander 'behind schedule' and Hader ascending to closer

Houston's bullpen also includes 26-year-old right-hander Bryan Abreu.

"The back three is solid,'' Hader said. "But even the guys that fill the spots in the front part of it are just (as) important as the back three. I think we have guys who can fill that role just fine and put us in the spot to win games and bridge the gap to the back end.''

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