Delcarmen's woes might spur trade talk

BOSTON -- Red Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen had just finished a bottle of water in front of his locker stall when he attempted a 3-pointer with the piece of recycled plastic into a trash bucket about 10 feet away.

He missed.

"I stink," he said as he walked over, picked up the bottle with his left hand and slammed it home.

That show of inaccuracy occurred a few hours before the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Red Sox 9-4 Wednesday night at Fenway Park.

It was evident the right-handed reliever was having difficulty locating the ball during his appearance in the top of the eighth inning with the Sox trailing 3-1. Delcarmen faced only five batters and got none of them out, allowing five runs on four hits and a walk as the Rays broke the game open.

Afterward, Delcarmen admitted his throwing arm has been bothering him recently.

"Something in my forearm," he said. "It's been sore for a week. It's been getting better every day, but I'm having trouble getting extension on the ball. I'll see how the day off [Thursday] goes, and we'll see on Friday."

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said after the game that Delcarmen would be examined in the coming days before a decision is made whether to place him on the disabled list.

"He's been fighting it a little bit," Francona said. "A couple of first-pitch fastballs [Wednesday], and all of a sudden it's first and third before he can even take a breath. His velocity is still pretty good; that last little bit is bothering him. We'll talk it through. We have a day off tomorrow, so we'll see."

Delcarmen suffered an elbow injury earlier in his career and needed Tommy John surgery while pitching at Class A Sarasota in 2003. He doesn't think this issue is that serious.

"It's nowhere near [that]. There are no tingles or anything like that," he said. "It's just my forearm, so we're going to go day-by-day."

As far as Wednesday's outing goes, Delcarmen wasn't happy.

"I sucked," he said. "Coming in 3-1, I feel like if I felt normal and could throw 100 percent, I'll take the ball whenever Tito gives it to me. I'm stubborn sometimes and shouldn't take it at times, but I'll go out there and compete. I was leaving the ball over the plate and couldn't throw my off-speed for strikes."

While fighting this forearm issue, Delcarmen has allowed 11 of the past 14 batters he's faced to reach base in his past three outings. Still, he wants the ball and is trying to pitch through the discomfort. In his past two outings, he's allowed nine runs.

Delcarmen's bullpen mates see what he's going through of late and feel for him.

"It's something that, as a player, you have to know your body and know when to take yourself out of the equation," closer Jonathan Papelbon said. "It's tough to deal with because all you try to do is help the team the best way you can. It's hard to take the fight out of the dog. As a player it's hard to take yourself out of the game. I think he's dealing with a lot of that right now."

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein recently said the best way to improve your club, especially if you're a contender, is to improve the bullpen. If Delcarmen's issue is serious and he needs to be placed on the DL, Epstein likely will seek help elsewhere.

"When those guys pitch well, we have a really, really good bullpen," Epstein said Tuesday. "Every contending team could always use another useful reliever. It's always something teams are looking at, and we're no different. It's not a condemnation of our current 'pen, but you have to be realistic about it, and if you can add another good reliever, it always makes your team better."

Epstein likely will be working the phones.

Papelbon said he agrees with Epstein's assessment but doesn't believe the GM needs to act right now.

"No question. It always comes down to the bullpen. The last outs of the game are the hardest ones to get," Papelbon said. "I don't think Manny is the make or break. You assess our team when it's time to assess our team and then you go from there. I think it's a little early for that right now."

Maybe. Maybe not.

Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox and Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.