BALTIMORE — Red Sox closer Koji Uehara initially declined to answer when asked on Monday whether he should be on the American League All-Star team.
“I don’t want to talk about something that hasn’t happened,” Uehara said via interpreter C.J.Matsumoto. “It’s too early.”
But Uehara certainly has a good case to be at Target Field in Minneapolis for the game.
His 0.68 earned run average is the second lowest in baseball for relievers with at least 25 innings. Uehara is third in strikeout-to-walk ratio and is 12 for 12 in save chances.
American League manager John Farrell will have some say in determining the roster. But Uehara would be an easy choice for any manager.
“He deserves it,” teammate Jon Lester said. “There are closers with more saves but I don’t know anybody who has been more effective. I love watching the guy pitch. He’s the same every time.”
For the 39-year-old Uehara, being an All-Star would be one final line on an impressive baseball résumé.
Uehara was an eight-time All-Star in Japan as a dominant starter and pitched for his country in the World Baseball Classic and the Olympics. He also won the Sawamura Award, the equivalent of the Cy Young, in Japan.
Since coming to the majors in 2009, Uehara has a 2.27 ERA in 256 games and helped the Red Sox win the World Series last season. But he has never been an All-Star.
“I will be playing golf,” Uehara said when asked his plans for mid-July. “That is what I think I will be doing. But you never know.”
Farrell gave Uehara an enthusiastic endorsement.
“He’s performed at such an elite level not for just this year but for a long period. In our eyes he’s certainly an All-Star. But before suggesting he’s going to be there in Minnesota we’re hopeful there’s many more save opportunities between now and the break.
“He’s done everything we’ve asked. Multiple innings in tie games . . . more than three outs in a save situation. He’s a breath of fresh air and he’s one hell of a pitcher.”
Bradley gets a break
Jackie Bradley Jr. was out of the lineup in the series opener against the Orioles Monday night after going 4 for 20 in the first six games of the road trip with 11 strikeouts. He is hitting .203 with a .286 on-base percentage.
“I’m not making contact on pitches down the middle. I need to keep working and get this fixed,” Bradley said. “I’m definitely not accustomed to striking out at this large quantity. I take pride at being able to work counts.
“But right now, working a count is not working the best. I’m fouling off pitches I should be hitting. I need to make better contact.”
Grady Sizemore started in center field.
“Jackie’s had some challenges of late,” said Farrell. “He’s been working on some things in early BP with a little bit of a different setup, where his hand placement is. The strikeouts are probably more than he’s ever experienced and more than we projected. Just a chance to take a little bit of a breather.”
Could Bradley’s break be a few days?
“Undetermined right now,” Farrell said.
Farrell said Bradley is working on a more consistent swing and not over-swinging against pitchers with good velocity.
“He’s a talented player and he’s made an impact on a number of games he’s played for us. He’s one of the better defending center fielders in the game. And yet we’ve got some offensive things he’s aware of, that we’re aware of, to gain some consistency,” Farrell said.
Drew out of lineup
Stephen Drew was out of the lineup with a tight right oblique muscle. Drew felt it in the sixth inning on Sunday night when he grounded out to shortstop.
“Precautionary. We’ve got to hold him out,” Farrell said.
Drew is 1 for 14 in four games since returning to the Red Sox with one RBI and one run.
Drew signed with the Red Sox on May 21 and was optioned to the minor leagues on May 23. He spent the minimum required time in the minors — 10 days — before the Red Sox activated him last Monday.
Drew played seven games in the minors and was 5 for 21 with nine strikeouts.
General manager Ben Cherington would not comment on his negotiations with agent ScottBoras but said the Red Sox felt Drew was physically ready to be recalled. Boras said there were no conditions in the contract as to when Drew had to be called up.
Jonathan Herrera started at shortstop and Xander Bogaerts remained at third base. Farrell doesn’t believe Drew will be out more than a day or two and has no plans to move Bogaerts back to shortstop.
Farrell said he would be willing to start Brock Holt at shortstop. Holt has never played shortstop in the majors but has 283 games of minor league experience at the position.
Buchholz to rehab
Clay Buchholz will start a rehabilitation assignment with Triple A Pawtucket on Friday against Charlotte at McCoy Stadium. The righthander is scheduled for five innings.
Farrell said Buchholz would be evaluated after each start.
“It’s not like he’s coming off an arm ailment or anything with throwing,” Farrell said. “We’ll see where he’s at after Friday.”
Buchholz has been on the disabled list since May 27 with a knee injury. He has been working on his mechanics since to solve the issues that led to his having a 7.02 ERA in 10 starts.
Lefthander Felix Doubront will start for Pawtucket on Tuesday afternoon against Louisville and then on Sunday against Charlotte. He is on the DL with a shoulder strain.
Don’t expect first baseman/outfielder Mike Carp back any time soon. Carp, who is out with a broken bone in his right foot, just got out of a medical boot and will need “a couple of weeks” of rehabilitation before starting baseball activity.”
Shane Victorino is doing more running to test his strained right hamstring but no rehab assignment has been scheduled.
Appeal hearing set
Major League Baseball will hear Brandon Workman’s appeal of a six-game suspension on Friday. He was disciplined for throwing at Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria on May 30 . . . Catcher A.J. Pierzynski was out of the lineup, something Farrell said was predetermined. But Pierzynski has run afoul of his manager twice in the last week. Pierzynski was ejected for arguing with umpire Quinn Walcott in the sixth inning of Wednesday’s game against the Indians. Then on Sunday he was thrown out after wandering off second base in the sixth inning after a routine ground out at first.