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Joe Kelly describes initial scare of arm injury as ‘different and awkward’

03.20.15 at 12:10 am ET
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Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly is good to go, but not without a minor scare.

Appearing Thursday night on WEEI’s Hot Stove Show, Kelly clarified that the biceps injury he suffered in his last start was something he had never experienced before.

Kelly left Monday’s start against the Mets with spasms in his right biceps, an injury he described as “different and awkward.” After suffering the injury, he had initially said it was similar to one he had had with the Cardinals.

“Anytime a pitcher comes out of the game and it’s injury related, you never know what can happen,” Kelly said. “Obviously some guys come out of games with tight forearms, and that leads to Tommy John [surgery].

“What I had the other day was a combination of my biceps not firing properly and I had a little bit of spasms, a tightening up, which I’d never had in my life. That’s something different and awkward. [The Red Sox] saw that my arm wasn’t working properly and got me out of the game.”

Kelly threw a 32-pitch bullpen on Thursday at what he estimated to be about 75 percent effort, and then declared himself ready to make Sunday’s start against the Phillies. An MRI earlier this week found no structural damage.

“Today told me basically that I’m good to go,” Kelly said. “It wasn’t game speed. I didn’t have a chance to really let anything go. … It was a good session, more for the training staff, the medical staff and the coaches to let them know I’m all right. I like to pitch through a lot of stuff. Some guys would come out of the game early if they’re not feeling right. That’s something I’m not very good at. I pitch through pretty much anything.”

Kelly added that his arm is sound.

“There’s no structural damage or anything like that,” he said. “We’re 100 percent sure there will be no further damage. It’s one of those things ‘€“ if you get it, you’ve got to work through it and pitch through a little dead arm.”

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Red Sox notebook: Joe Kelly seems ready to make next start

03.19.15 at 1:02 pm ET
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Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Others might still be wondering, but Joe Kelly seems like he has little doubt he will make his next start, Sunday.

After throwing 32 pitches in a bullpen session outside JetBlue Park Thursday, Kelly proclaimed that the biceps ailment that had forced him out of his last outing was no longer an issue.

“That’€™s the plan,” said Kelly of keeping on his current schedule. “We’€™ve been working on this thing and trying to get my arm feel as good as possible and get ready for the season. Obviously you want to be healthy and feeling good. My arm is feeling good right now. Obviously a lot better when I had to come out of the game. After today, my bullpen session, I feel really confident where I’€™m going to be at in two days.”

While Kelly didn’t truly air out any of his pitches, he did integrate all his offerings, including the off-speed stuff that had bothered him during his recent 2 2/3-inning outing.

“I felt good on my bullpen,” said Kelly, who will appear on the Hot Stove Show on WEEI Thursday night (6). “I didn’€™t throw it obviously 100 percent, which I never do in my bullpens. What I got out there today was I got my body going, tried to see how the arm feels. I knew it was feeling fine, but it was more for staff, medical staff, coaching staff. For them to see and make sure I’€™m a guy who likes to pitch through a lot of things. It was more for them. But I felt pretty good out there. I threw about 70 percent. It went well.”

Kelly added, “Obviously on my off-speed pitches I didn’€™t put the intensity I would in the game because I wanted to go out there and get out feeling good and not overwork it, get tired or start breaking up nasty stuff just in case it wasn’€™t feeling up to par. But today went well and I’€™ll definitely a good step to try and pitch in two days.”

The last obstacle for Kelly to clear is approval from the Red Sox‘ medical staff upon arriving at the park Friday. The pitcher was optimistic he would be getting clearance.

“I’€™m going to feel good tomorrow,” he said. “It usually feels better the day after and today it felt fine, so I know I’€™m going to feel pretty good tomorrow.”

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Read More: 2015 spring training, Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly,

Koji Uehara says getting ready for Opening Day ‘might be close,’ but optimistic

03.18.15 at 12:43 pm ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Koji Uehara has been through this hamstring thing before, although the reliever noted that this tweak of his left leg wasn’t as serious as his pull a few years back in Baltimore.

The closer did, however, note that this setback does add some uncertainty to his preparation.

“I feel that it might be a close call but I should be ready,” said Uehara through a translator when asked if he thought he would be ready for April 5.

Uehara, who has pitched three times this spring, said locking in on a return date was “nothing that I can predict right now.” And in regard to how many outings he might need to be ready for the regular season, the righty noted, “It’€™s something that the coaches will probably decide. I could probably be ready without even appearing in a game.”

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Depth watch: Why Red Sox are trying out Matt Barnes in bullpen; backup starters power rankings

03.18.15 at 10:34 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The initial reaction to John Farrell‘s subtle suggestion that Matt Barnes would be working as a reliever going forward was that it might be a move executed in part because of Koji Uehara’s hamstring injury. (He remains day-to-day, according to Farrell.)

Not necessarily.

The primary impetus for Barnes once again living the life as a reliever is because the Red Sox are searching for some velocity out of their ‘pen. It was one of the reasons Alexi Ogando was prioritized over someone like Burke Badenhop in the offseason, and is a pretty good explanation for drawing back on the UConn product’s work as a starter.

Brandon Workman could have been that guy, but he hasn’t rediscovered the velocity of 2013.

Farrell talked the other day about the change in offense approach due to powerful bullpen arms, with lineups not necessarily wanting to drive fading starters out of the game because of the heat waiting for them out of the ‘pen. Before the addition of Barnes, that sort of dynamic seemed somewhat lacking out of the Red Sox relievers.

According to Fangraphs.com, the Red Sox relief pitchers were dead last in average velocity, clocking in (for fastballs) at 91.4 mph.

Another less pressing concern for the Red Sox is the ability of Barnes to pitch more than one inning.

Right now it appears as though Tommy Layne is going to make this team, leaving him, Junichi Tazawa, Edward Mujica and Ogando as more-times-than-not one-inning guys. Anthony Varvaro and Craig Breslow have the capability to extend themselves, with Varvaro going beyond one inning six times last season, and Breslow doing it on 10 occasions.

With the wake-up call that Joe Kelly’s sore biceps gave the Red Sox earlier this week — (they won’t know if he will make his start Sunday until throwing off a mound Thursday) — it’s also probably a good time to see who would be first to fill in if rotation spots did start opening up.

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Red Sox trim roster to 51 by shifting 6 players to minor leagues

03.18.15 at 9:39 am ET
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Sean Coyle

Sean Coyle

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox on Wednesday trimmed their big league roster to 51 players by moving a half-dozen to the minor league camp.

Infielders Sean Coyle and Travis Shaw were optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, while first baseman/outfielder Brian LaHair and right-handed pitchers Miguel Celestino, Keith Couch and Noe Ramirez were reassigned to minor league camp.

Of the 51 players remaining on the major league roster, 38 are from the 40-man roster and 13 are non-roster invitees.

The Red Sox continue Grapefruit League play Wednesday with a game at JetBlue Park against the crosstown rival Twins.

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Observations from JetBlue Park: Koji Uehara hurts hamstring; Matt Barnes in bullpen competition; Joe Kelly not worried

03.17.15 at 5:01 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The story of the game played at JetBlue Park was a Red Sox team that made four errors, with their first three pitchers — Clay Buchholz, Matt Barnes and Brandon Workman — giving up 10 runs on the way to an 11-3 loss to Jonny Gomes’ Braves.

But it was before and after the contest that the real pertinent news surfaced …

— Koji Uehara, who was expected to pitch an inning Tuesday, was scratched after hurting his left hamstring prior to the game.

“He strained his left hamstring running this morning, that’s why we held him out,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “He’s day-to-day right now … Again, it’s going to be a few days before we test him again and before we get him back into a game.”

Uehara has pitched in three games, two of which he allowed runs.

— The Red Sox appear to be shifting their approach when it comes to Matt Barnes, who allowed two runs on two hits and a walk in his one inning of work.

Instead of continuing to stretch out Barnes as a starter, the righty will get more usage over the coming days in shorter stints in order to see his potential effectiveness as a reliever.

“I wanted to take a look at him earlier in the game against more of the ‘A’ type lineups as opposed to the first couple of times out and today was the first exposure to that,” Farrell said. “We’re still taking a look at him in shorter stints right now.”

The manager added, “I thought he was amped up a little bit, in particular the first couple of curveballs he threw, it looked like he overthrew them a couple of times. And I think there was some adrenaline in there. As we shift his role and talk a little bit more about more frequent outings, he probably looks into that a little bit. There’s some legitimate competition there. But we’re not making the final decision on the roster today.”

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Jonny Gomes has reminder for Hanley Ramirez: Playing left field at Fenway isn’t easy

03.17.15 at 2:02 pm ET
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Jonny Gomes (Getty Images)

Jonny Gomes heads into 2015 with the Braves. (Getty Images)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It was only for 1 1/2 seasons, but few have managed the left field wall at Fenway Park as well as Jonny Gomes.

It wasn’t by accident, and it wasn’t just because he was afforded a head start with the left field wall at JetBlue Park.

“Well, I wouldn’€™t call myself an ambassador by any means,” said Gomes, now an outfielder for the Braves. “I think I played that wall pretty well. But I think the cat is out of the bag that that wall is way different. From the padding to the net, the dimensions, feet-wise, are the same. I wouldn’€™t be in any hurry to master JetBlue’€™s wall for Fenway’€™s wall, but I guess it’€™s a good starting point.”

So, what would be his recommendation to the Red Sox‘ new left fielder, Hanley Ramirez?

“I wouldn’€™t say experience as much as being extremely open and having the work ethic to learn it,” Gomes said. “That wall hasn’€™t moved in 100-plus years and balls are bouncing off that wall pretty similarly to the way they did 100 years ago. At the same time, it’€™s so foreign from anywhere else. It’€™s not like grabbing a wall and throwing a ball off it. There’€™s a lot to be learned off that wall.”

Gomes, who was hitting third for the Braves‘ visit to JetBlue Tuesday, was not only good at playing the Fenway wall, but in some ways he was an innovator.

Through working on the wall throughout his first spring training, Gomes incorporated a strategy never seen before from Red Sox left fielders — catching balls directly off the wall instead of letting them bounce.

The thinking behind the ploy was that little harm can be done if the ball is missed and gets away in front of the fielder. It would usually be a double, anyway.

It’s one of the many aspects of playing left field that outfield/first base coach Arnie Beyeler has been working with Ramirez on throughout the exhibition season. (Although the new left fielder hasn’t truly been tested too many times thus far.)

“He was very creative out there, catching the ball off the wall,” Beyeler said of Gomes. “He started working on that, practicing that. That’s something that if you don’t play enough games out there you’ll waste your time trying to do it and you create more problems. He sure opened an awareness of how you can control the game a little better.”

Now, it’s Gomes’ legacy that Beyeler is currently trying to pass on to Ramirez. (Note: Ramirez made a nice running catch in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s game, cutting in front of center fielder Mookie Betts.)

“The biggest thing that stands out to me is catching a ball off the wall, but you have to work on it,” the coach said. “You can’t go out there and do it, and then you still have to know speed of the runners, situations and if you get caught in between on a ball you change your risk/return on when you do something like that. He was really smart about that and had all kind of game awareness from that standpoint.

“It’s going to take time. It may take two or three years of getting to know all that stuff out there because you just don’t get a lot of those balls out there to you. That’s why we hit all those crazy balls out there to him, so it doesn’t seem all that different and you can let your ability take over and react instead of thinking about it.”

Read More: 2015 spring training, Jonny Gomes,

Red Sox reliever Tommy Layne will never forget his first win

03.17.15 at 12:14 pm ET
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Tommy Layne

Tommy Layne

It wasn’t quite Carl Hubbell at the 1934 All-Star Game, but Tommy Layne will never forget his first win.

The left-hander, who’s battling Brandon Workman for the final spot in the Red Sox bullpen, earned his first victory with the Padres in September of 2012, and it wasn’t a gimme.

Called upon to pitch for the eighth time in 10 days, Layne faced the Murderer’s Row of the Dodgers lineup in the 10th inning of a tie game: Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, and Hanley Ramirez.

Three strikeouts later, Lane was back in the dugout. The Padres then scored three in the 11th to take the 6-3 win and get Layne in the record book.

“I remember them all,” Layne said recently. “Going into that day, I think I was going on six straight days of pitching, so (manager) Buddy Black had told me before the day even started, ‘We’re going to try to stay away from you if we can.’ So it wasn’t like I was checked out, but when we got to the ninth and I still hadn’t gotten into the game, I figured I wasn’t going to get into the game.”

Black needed to burn four relievers just to reach the 10th, however, so Layne got the call.

First up, the batter Layne considers his nemesis: Gonzalez.

“They’re all great, but Adrian is by far my toughest out,” Layne said. “It doesn’t matter where I throw it. In, out, up, down, he gets a piece of it. He’ll foul me off and stay alive. I ended up striking him out on a cutter that I made a slider over the middle of the plate. I went back and watched the video. His hole is down over the plate that he swings and misses. Instead of throwing a cutter away, I basically made my cutter look bigger and threw a slider down the middle.”

Gonzalez (1-for-4 against Layne lifetime) swung through it. “That was cool,” Layne said. “Once I got past him, I felt like, ‘OK, I can get through this inning.'”

He punched out Kemp swinging on a high fastball, and then set up Ramirez to look for something inside before freezing him with a backdoor slider for strike three.

Layne has since added three more wins — they’re hard to come by for left-handed specialists — but he’ll never forget his first.

“I didn’t have much,” Layne said, “but I threw it up there and ended up getting them. Adrian, Kemp, Hanley. It was the meat of the order. It was awesome.”

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Red Sox injury updates: Joe Kelly biceps feeling better; Christian Vazquez dealing with elbow issue

03.17.15 at 10:30 am ET
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Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

FORT MYERS, Fla. — So far, the Red Sox have gotten the news they were looking for in regards to Joe Kelly.

The Sox starter, who left his outing Monday with stiffness in his right biceps, came to JetBlue Park feeling better. While it is still uncertain if Kelly will make his scheduled start Sunday, Tuesday’s check-up suggested no MRI would be needed at the current time.

“He comes in and feels improved over yesterday,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “There’€™s still a little bit of soreness there but we’€™re going to get his arm moving with some light catch. He went through a full workup here today. There’€™s no imaging at this point recommended or required. So what this means in terms of his next turn is yet to be determined.”

Farrell added: “The next couple of days will determine where he’€™s going to be in terms of rotation. He’€™s scheduled to start on Sunday. We will get him off the mound prior to the next time he gets into a game. There will probably be a couple of days of some rest, some rehab and maybe some light throwing. If that extends him out the sixth day, that’€™s possible. But we’€™ll know more in the coming days.”

While Kelly’s injury was for all to see, the one Christian Vazquez has been dealing with had been kept quiet until Farrell’s media session Tuesday.

Vazquez hasn’t played since feeling some soreness in his throwing elbow after gunning down a baserunner in the Red Sox’ meeting with the Yankees Friday night.

The catcher did feel well enough to throw some Monday, but still isn’t at the point where he is comfortable re-entering games. Vazquez will get at-bats on the Fenway South back fields in the coming days.

“He’€™s got a little bit of soreness in his elbow so we backed him out of games,” the manager noted. “He’€™s going to get some at-bats over on the minor league side tomorrow and Thursday. But with almost three weeks still remaining in camp we don’€™t want to push this by any means and give this a chance to calm down.

“He threw yesterday but not to where he’€™s without thought, where he’€™s really cutting it loose. As well as he throws and as valuable as his arm is to him as a player and to us behind the plate, we’€™re just backing him down a couple of days.”

Farrell also was optimistic that Rusney Castillo — who hasn’t played since injuring his left oblique during the Red Sox’ game against Boston College — might be in the lineup Wednesday. Castillo told WEEI.com Monday he did feel 100 percent.

“He’€™s going to go through a full workout today, including throwing to the bases and I’€™ll get a chance to meet with him when he comes out of that,” Farrell said. “But we’€™re still targeting tomorrow.”

Read More: 2015 spring training, christian vazquez, Joe Kelly,

Observations from JetBlue Park: Red Sox not overly concerned about Joe Kelly’s biceps

03.16.15 at 5:30 pm ET
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Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

FORT MYERS, Fla. — As Red Sox manager John Farrell pointed out after his team’s 4-3 win over the Mets Monday, any time a starter is forced to walk-off the mound in the middle of an outing there should be cause for concern.

But in the case of Joe Kelly — who had to exit in the third inning after experiencing tightness in his right biceps — the Red Sox and the pitcher weren’t seemingly overly anxious.

“They kind of saw me shaking my arm more than usual, asked me what was wrong and I just said my biceps is a little tight and a little achy and it progressively got a little worse,” Kelly said, having had particular trouble throwing breaking balls. “They might want me to rest a little bit. Just a little bit of restriction in my lower biceps. See how it feels tomorrow, and play regular catch, hopefully.”

“He was experiencing some biceps soreness. Not uncommon for pitchers to experience some kind of soreness as we’€™re stretching him out and building up their pitch count,” Farrell noted. “I know it’€™s something Joe has dealt with in the past. It was a day his velocity wasn’€™t normal, which again, I think some of our starters are going through a little bit of a dead arm period. I know it affected him most after he tried to throw his breaking ball. After he threw that last pitch where he tried to get a little extra velocity you could see him have a little different action on the mound.

“At that time it was clearly time to get him out of the game. We’€™ll have a chance to re-evaluate him when he comes back tomorrow to see what treatment he might needs going forward or any adjustment to his overall schedule. We’€™ll find that out tomorrow.”

Kelly said he had dealt with this issue before and felt the biceps discomfort while warming up.

While none of the parties involved could say for sure, the chances of Kelly making his next start, Sunday against the Phillies, would seem in doubt considering the Sox’s cautious approach. It is still also unclear if an MRI will be needed, although the pitcher wasn’t anticipating undergoing any imaging.

“Any time a pitcher walks off the mound you’€™ve got to go through some steps of getting on a mound in a bullpen session and test it before you go back out there,” Farrell said. “We’€™ll get more information before he comes in tomorrow.”

Kelly, who was relegated to primarily throwing all fastballs before exiting, allowed three runs on seven hits over 2 2/3 innings.

“I’m fairly confident and honest with you guys that I think it’s not very much of a big deal at all,” he said. “They might make me rest a little bit. Right now my arm feels fine. It just was a little bit of restriction in the lower part of my biceps.”

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