When the Boston Red Sox pulled into the Bronx Thursday night to face their fiercest rivals, they had every inclination to make sure that they had the lead going into the ninth inning in each game. They had Koji Uehara in the bullpen to help ensure victory just as the Yankees had with Mariano Rivera for so many years. Uehara, however, has not yet appeared in the series’ first three games, and he will probably miss Sunday’s game as well. Uehara is sidelined with shoulder tightness , and he is currently listed as day-to-day.
Darius Austin of Sports Injury Alert described Uehara’s shoulder problem, and MLB.com’s Eric Single reported Saturday afternoon that Red Sox manager John Farrell is undecided about placing his closer on the disabled list. Before Saturday’s game, Farrell explained his position, saying that he needs to know more before making a decision. Said Farrell,
“He’s unavailable today. We haven’t gotten to the point of any roster move with him. We’re still gathering information. We’ll look to put him through a little bit of a throwing program tomorrow, and that’s the next step, so right now still unavailable.”
Uehara first felt the discomfort Friday night. He did sit out for injury at any time last season although he did miss time with Texas in 2012. He said that this tightness is similar to what he felt that season.
This is the exact reason the Red Sox signed Edward Mujica this past offseason. Uehara is an elite closer, especially last year, but Mujica provides that insurance that a championship-caliber team needs. Mujica saved 37 games for St. Louis last year before he went down injured, and he shut the door Friday night to get his first save with the Red Sox. Should Uehara have to miss any time, Mujica will save many more in his stead.
So far, the Red Sox’ bullpen is fourth in the American League in ERA at 2.97 as of Saturday. Uehara and Mujica have combined for 3 for 3 in saves, and most of the bullpen has not allowed a run.
Should Uehara need the disabled list, the Red Sox will miss him. However, they have a solid enough bullpen and an established closer to overcome the loss for a time, especially if the offense steps it up. The Red Sox are 5-7 , 2 games out, in the American League East at the close of play on Saturday, April 12. It is still very early, but they need to start turning things around in a tough division. It will be easier if they can keep Koji Uehara in the bullpen and off the disabled list.by