As Mark Melancon hinted to reporters here, the delay in recalling him from AAA Pawtucket hinged almost entirely on the success enjoyed by Boston's bullpen this season.
With Rich HIll sent to the DL with left elbow/forearm soreness Sunday morning, Melancon made his return.
But this begs the question: What does this mean for Hill?
"He just doesn't feel good throwing his curveball," Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "Hopefully, it'll come back that it's an SOP (standard operating procedure), that this is the way things happen as you recover from Tommy John."
Hill told reporters that he "had no answers" on Sunday, but will be traveling to Pensacola, Fla., today for a visit with Dr. James Andrews tomorrow morning. Andrews, the famed Tommy John Surgery specialist, performed the surgery on Hill on June 9, 2011. So Hill heads to the DL almost exactly a year removed from the operation.
Prior to his departure, Hill was examined in Boston. "They were OK," Valentine said. When asked if Hill had an MRI, Valentine said, "I think he did." The trip to Florida will be to get Dr. Andrews' opinion.
Hill last pitched on Friday in the series opener versus Washington, throwing a scoreless, two-hit inning in Boston's 7-4 loss.
"He was in the game the other day and he threw those four curveballs to [Bryce] Harper and just didn't feel great about it," Valentine said. "I didn't think he was throwing much differently. His curveball just didn't have the same late break, but I don't know if that's elbow related."
Hill heads to the DL with a 2.63 ERA. Save a May 31 outing versus Detroit in which he gave up two runs in one inning, Hill had allowed just two runs all season, and was a consistent member of a bullpen that, since April 23, is first in the AL with a 1.47 groundball-to-flyball ratio and is second among AL relievers with 133 strikeouts.
"[Hill] said about three weeks ago that it bothered him a little and then it went away and it was no problem," Valentine said. "First I heard of it, was one of those days I didn't use him for three days or so and then he said he was fine."
Whether he will be for the future, Hill will find out tomorrow.