First there was Joel Hanrahan. Then it was Andrew Bailey. Now the job of closing out games for the Red Sox belongs to Koji Uehara.
”If there’s a save situation tonight it’ll be Koji,” John Farrell said this afternoon. “Had a chance to talk to he and both Andrew and that’s just where we’re at. Feel like Andrew needs to kind of back out and get some opportunities where he gets a little momentum. We did this before with he and Joel as well. Other players go through stretches where things aren’t happening for them. So that’s our approach right now.”
Bailey has blown saves in three of his last five chances, allowing seven runs one eight hits over four innings. He spoke confidently about returning to form and regaining the job.
The 38-year-old Uehara has pitched well as a set-up reliever all season, allowing 19 hits over 30 innings and striking out 42. He was Baltimore’s closer for part of the 2010 season and saved 13 games.
Farrell said that experience was the deciding factor in choosing Uehara over Andrew Miller.
The downside is the Red Sox have said since spring training that Uehara needs to be regularly rested to be effective. Farrell’s goal has been not to use him on consecutive days, although that has happened on six occasions and Uehara has not allowed a run.
”Hopefully we have save opportunities every night,” Farrell said. “If he’s not available. we have confidence that it could be Junichi [Tazawa], it could be Andrew Miller and in time Andrew Bailey.”
When asked about the idea of trading for a reliever, Farrell said he has confidence in the depth of the bullpen.
”We’re staying internal right now,” he said. “I know Ben [Cherington] is always on the outlook to improve the team however he can.”
• David Ross was diagnosed with a second concussion and has been shut down indefinitely. He will return to his home in Florida to recover and is not scheduled to see Dr. Michael Collins at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center until early July.
Because Ross suffered two concussions in a relatively short period of time, it’s unclear how long he will be out.
• Farrell said earlier this week that Will Middlebrooks would play the first two games in Detroit. But he out of the lineup today. Farrell said Jose Iglesias has proven he deserves to play and is winning the competition for the job.
• Clayton Mortensen has started a rehab assignment with Triple A Pawtucket. He was placed on the disabled list on June 11 with the team said was a groin strain.
• The Red Sox have promoted third baseman Garin Cecchini to Double A Portland. A fourth-round pick in 2010, Cecchini hit .350/.469/.547 for Single A Salem with 33 RBIs over 63 games. He also stole 15 bases in 22 attempts.
• Allen Webster joined the team, although he won’t be on the roster officially until Saturday, when he starts against the Tigers.
Under a new rule put in last season as part of the new labor agreement, players are allowed to join teams a day in advanced of being added to a roster. In previous seasons, players weren’t allowed to be in uniform and would watch games from the hotel or the stands.
• Righthander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, a Cuban defector soon expected to be declared a free agent, pitched for major league executives and scouts on Thursday in Tijuana, Mexico.
According to Fox Sports, Cherington was the only general manager to attend. Nearly every team was represented, however.
Gonzalez, 26, played in Cuba’s top league for several years and was a member of their national team. But he missed much of the last two seasons serving a suspension related to an earlier attempt at defecting.
”I played with him in Havana for two years. He’s very good,” Jose Iglesias said. “I think he could succeed in the big leagues.”
The 6-foot-3 Gonzalez will be a free agent once he receives clearance from the U.S. government. He also would not be subject to international spending limits because of his level of experience.
The Dodgers and Cuba are among the teams expected to bid for Gonzalez.