BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox transferred reliever Joel Hanrahan to the 60-day disabled list on Thursday with an injured right elbow, and manager John Farrell acknowledged that surgery has been discussed as a possible course of action.
Hanrahan was en route Thursday to Birmingham, Ala., for an appointment Friday morning to see noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews.
From a procedural standpoint, moving Hanrahan from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL created a spot on the 40-man roster for pitcher Jose De La Torre, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Pawtucket. To clear a spot for De La Torre on the 25-man roster, pitcher Allen Webster, who started Wednesday night and took the loss, was sent back to Pawtucket.
It was a clear indication that even if Hanrahan elects a conservative approach, eschewing surgery for rest, rehabilitation and recovery, the Red Sox expect that process to be an extended one.
"Once we got the initial MRI, it seemed that was a possibility," Farrell said Thursday. "Not knowing the extent or total number of days, we felt it was still going to require some recovery time. Then, when you factor in the buildup back from that, we felt like this was going to be a couple months total at a minimum."
Hanrahan, who left Monday night's game after giving up a game-tying home run to Brian Dozier in the ninth inning, was initially diagnosed with a flexor-pronator strain of his forearm. Frequently, there is also damage to the ulnar collateral ligament, which in a worst-case scenario could mean Tommy John surgery.
In May 2011, Daisuke Matsuzaka was placed on the DL with a flexor strain and sprained UCL. Two weeks later, after being examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum, who confirmed the team's discovery of a tear in the UCL, he opted for Tommy John surgery.
The initial MRI taken of Hanrahan's elbow appeared to indicate that the ligament had not sustained structural damage, according to both Farrell and Hanrahan.
"I think in the long run we dodged a bullet," Hanrahan said at the time.
Wednesday night, Hanrahan expressed concern that more is involved. When he had a similar injury with the Pirates in spring training 2010, he did not have the kind of bruising and discoloring in the elbow he has now.
"Doesn't look good," he said. "Leave it up to the experts, see what they say, let them put their heads together and go from there.
"If it is bad, I'm still 31, my personal setup will be all right. On the [bad] side, I've been here and I haven't been able to do anything I want to, to show anybody who I really am. So that part will stink if something bad happens."
Farrell said ligament damage can't be ruled out, but Hanrahan's visit to Andrews should offer some answers.
"I don't know that there's information in hand to date that says it's definite ligament issues," Farrell said. "That's where tomorrow's exam will be valuable in that area."
The manager also said Hanrahan had been told that surgery was a possibility.
"That's been part of the discussion," he said. "That's where he has to get his arms around the situation with as much information as possible and make the decision at that point."
The UCL is one of the tissues that connects the humerus bone in the upper arm to the two bones of the forearm. It acts as a stabilizer in the elbow, allowing it to withstand the stresses created by throwing a baseball. When the UCL weakens and stretches, it is technically called a sprain and it prevents a pitcher from throwing with full velocity and typical control. A more complete tear requires the building of a new ligament, which Tommy John surgery accomplishes by transferring a tendon, often from the forearm.
Hanrahan is one of two former All-Star closers currently on the DL for the Red Sox. The other is Andrew Bailey, who was placed on the DL on Monday with a strained right biceps. He last appeared in a game on April 28.
On Thursday, Bailey played catch for the first time since going on the DL.
"Nice, easy catch from 60 feet, 90 feet," he said. "Felt pretty good. Go in there, see what they say, and figure out what I do next."
Bailey is eligible to come off the DL next Tuesday but indicated that was unlikely.
"I have no idea," he said.
"I would think so," he said. "I haven't pitched in 10 days, so that's not up to me."
Bailey said he has yet to discuss whether he would need a rehab assignment.
In the interim, Farrell has designated Junichi Tazawa to be his closer.
De La Torre, who was acquired by the Red Sox last July from Cleveland for utilityman Brent Lillibridge, has held opponents scoreless in his past seven appearances (11 2/3 innings). This will be his major league debut.
Farrell said De La Torre will be used primarily in low-leverage situations.
How big a blow to the bullpen is losing Hanrahan?
"A healthy Joel Hanrahan getting injured is a blow for anyone," Farrell said, "and a guy who's been a very successful pitcher, I don't know that you can necessarily just replace a guy of his ability and talents.
"But regardless of the injuries we're dealing with right now, our expectation and our level of play shouldn't be compromised by that. That's the expectation here: to go out every night to prepare and put a game together to win."
The Red Sox come into Thursday night's game with the Minnesota Twins losers of five of their past six games.