With both of his relievers with closer’s experience on the shelf -- Andrew Bailey on the DL with biceps inflammation and Joel Hanrahan going down Monday night with a forearm strain, manager John Farrell said Tuesday the Boston Red Sox will go with right-hander Junichi Tazawa in closing situations for now.
"I think what we’d love to do is close [Junichi] Tazawa, Farrell said on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM on Tuesday. “We’d keep Koji [Uehara] in that eighth inning role that he’s been in. We just got [Craig] Breslow back to us yesterday and before the game we put Bailey on the disabled list who had done a great job in the closing role as well.
"So 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, because [we had] a couple of extra-inning games, we were in some tight games down in Texas, we have a starter check out early in the game where we’ve had to use the bullpen. 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.”
Hanrahan left the game in the middle of the ninth inning with tightness in his forearm, but not blowing his second save of the season and allowing the Twins to score the tying run. Farrell said early indications on the injury to Hanrahan, who also missed time earlier this season with a strained hamstring, were positive.
“I think the biggest thing is anytime a pitcher walks off the mound it’s not a good thing. I do know this, in conversations with him on the mound and then after the game, it wasn’t like there was a popping sensation, “Farrell said. “It’s more in the belly of the muscle rather than on the inside or the medial side of the elbow. So those initial signs are on the positive side. But still, you see a guy walk off the mound in the middle of an at-bat, we’re hopeful and staying optimistic as we can.”
Catcher David Ross was less optimistic in an interview on the same radio program.
“There definitely was concern. Definitely had some ice on it when I went in,” Ross said. “You know, I don’t like to ask, ‘Are you all right?’ because obviously he’s not all right. I think, you know, that he was just like, man, it just didn’t feel right. His forearm was actually really tight. I think it was in the belly of his forearm. It was kind of swollen already so that scares me a little bit for him. I think they are going to wait and see what the doctors say. I’m sure they are going to get him an MRI or some more tests today when some of that swelling gets out of there.”
Tazawa is 2-1 with a 2.51 ERA in 16 games with the Red Sox this season in late-inning setup role. In three career save opportunities, he has just one conversion. So why not give the job to righty Koji Uehara, who had 13 saves with the Baltimore Orioles in 2010?
“Well, the one thing I like about Koji is, typically, if you’re going to get those pinch hit left-handers in the eighth inning, he’s so effective against lefties,” Farrell explained. “And you can point to a few guys around the league that are right-handers that are so effective against lefties, and Peralta down in Tampa is another one, Koji is obviously one for us. I think that’s where you might get a little bit of that gamesmanship or the matchup capability in that eighth inning. Both of them are very good strike throwers. They have very good command of their fastball, they’ve got a good secondary pitch, they control the running game, both of them, very effectively.
"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. So, right now that’s the initial approach that we’d take to closing things out.”
Lefties are hitting .143 (4 for 28) against Uehara this season.