Boston Red Sox In Danger of Starting Season Without Koji Uehara


Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox are in serious danger of beginning the 2015 season without a closer in their bullpen.

Koji Uehara suffered a right hamstring injury earlier this spring. He’s struggled mightily in bouncing back from the setback. His chances of being ready for Opening Day are dwindling considering he last pitched on March 14.

Boston hopes Uehara will be able to get a bullpen session in by the end of this weekend, but it’ll be off of flat ground, not a pitcher’s mound, according to the team. Their season opener with the Philadelphia Phillies is just 12 days away. Uehara is running out of time in which he can get himself ready for game action and it’s become a growing concern for manager John Farrell.

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“With each passing day that he’s not in a game, there’s growing concern in the sense of, ‘Will he be ready for April 6?’ We’re just working through that,” Farrell said on Tuesday prior to his team’s exhibition game with the Miami Marlins.

Uehara, who is 39 years of age, has only appeared in 3 preseason games this spring, logging just 3 innings of work. Assuming he’s able to successfully work through this weekend’s scheduled bullpen session, Uehara would then have 3 games next week in which he could pitch in ahead of the opener. With that said though, Farrell still has his doubts if it would be enough work for the veteran.

“Three games next week would give him six appearances in spring training. Is that enough? We just have to evaluate the stuff once he gets back in games,” Farrell added.

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The Red Sox have no one else who has had the kind of success closing out games that Uehara has had. He’s racked up 47 saves in two seasons in Boston. He was selected to the American League All-Star team in 2014.

Edward Mujica would be the only other logical possibility to get the ball in the 9th if Uehara is forced to begin the year on the disabled list. Mujica does have 49 career saves, but they’re spread out over 9 seasons. The next potential candidate would be Craig Breslow who has tallied 7 career saves. Brandon Workman is always an option given his hard-throwing nature.

With nearly two weeks gone by since Uehara last pitched and no encouraging signs in terms of improving health, it would not come as a surprise if Boston ultimately ended up starting the year with their closer on the disabled list. If avoidable though, the club would obviously like to take that route and have Uehara at their disposal.