Red Sox manager John Farrell told MLB Network Radio that Junichi Tazawa would be the closer now that Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan are injured. Koji Uehara would remain as a set-up man.
“I think what we’d love to do is close Tazawa. We’d keep Koji in that eighth inning role that he’s been in,” Farrell said. “Fortunately we do have some depth to turn to internally and we know that we’ve got to get through these next couple of days to kinda regroup. … So we’re kind of breathing a little thin ice down there right now and just trying to manage the best we can to get through these next couple of days to regroup.”
Bailey was placed on the disabled list on Monday retroactive to April 29 with a biceps strain. Hanrahan then left Monday’s game with what was described as forearm tightness.
No move has been announced with Hanrahan. But a return to the disabled list seems likely given how beat up the Red Sox bullpen is.
Clayton Mortensen will need a few days off after throwing 62 pitches the last two days. The Sox also have Felix Doubront starting Wednesday and John Lackey on Thursday, two starters unlikely to go deep into games. For Lackey, it’s a matter of it being only his fourth start of the season. For Doubront, it’s an issue of performance.
The only available relievers on the 40-man roster are Alfredo Aceves and Daniel Bard, although Steven Wright is a possibility. Aceves has not pitched since Thursday, when he went six innings.
Tazawa has one career save. But the 26-year-old would seem better suited for the physical demands of closing than Uehara, 38. Farrell has been saying for months that the Sox would prefer to give Uehara at least one day off between appearances. Closing would make that difficult.
Tazawa has pitched extremely well all season, allowing 11 hits over 14.1 innings with three walks and 18 strikeouts.
“Tazawa has a little bit more fastball which, whether I’m siding to the traditional approach with a little bit more power late in the game, that’s there,” Farrell said. “So, right now that’s the initial approach that we’d take to closing things out.”
Bailey would not seem to have a serious injury and is eligible to be activated on May 14. In theory, the Sox may only need Tazawa to close for 7-10 days. But given Bailey’s extensive history of injuries, predicting his return is difficult.
Hanrahan was scheduled for an MRI today. He left the mound in the ninth and there was swelling in his arm along with the tightness. Farrell said there was no “popping” sensation, however. Forearm tightness is often a sign of an injury around the elbow.
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