Red Sox closer Koji Uehara was not available to close out the team’s 4-2 win over the New York Yankees on Friday night. Uehara felt some shoulder stiffness, while throwing before the game, and was held out as a precaution.
“Before the game today Koji felt a little stiffness in his throwing program, so we felt it best to stay away from him,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Just precautionary. This will be a day-to-day type of thing. We’ll check with him tomorrow.”
Uehara felt a similar soreness in 2012, when with the Texas Rangers, and would go on to miss 66 games as a result. According to Uehara, he could have pitched, but the team opted to sit the veteran closer in order to avoid further aggravation to the injured area. Even though Uehara is in the midst of a dominant stretch, we must remember that he is still a 39-year old pitcher and it would behoove the Sox to practice extreme caution when it comes to maintaining his health.
Uehara has picked up where he left off last season turning in five-straight scoreless appearances with two saves, a 0.60 WHIP and seven strikeouts over five innings pitched.
Newly acquired setup man Edward Mujica took the ball in the ninth in place of Uehara, a move that sent shockwaves throughout Red Sox Nation. Mujica picked up his first save for the Red Sox and struck out pinch hitter Brett Gardner to end the game.
Mujica is a capable closer and shined in the role last season for the St. Louis Cardinals posting 37 saves before giving way to current closer Trevor Rosenthal. Mujica will continue to serve as the team’s primary closer should Uehara need to miss additional time. “He’s got a lot of success in that closer’s role,” Farrell said. “He’s got a lot of confidence in that ninth inning.”
The injury to Uehara does not appear to be serious and more will be known over the next few days.