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Red Sox to consider potential shut-down of Koji Uehara after latest struggle

09.05.14 at 1:59 am ET
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Red Sox right-hander Koji Uehara blew his third straight save opportunity on Thursday. (Getty Images)

Red Sox right-hander Koji Uehara blew his third straight save opportunity on Thursday. (Getty Images)

Over the past couple of weeks, as Koji Uehara’s poor outings mounted, the Red Sox had been consistent in their plans. The team would monitor the 39-year-old’s innings, use their All-Star closer judiciously over the duration of September, but the team did not have plans to shut down the man who had been so much a part of the team’s success since his arrival in 2013.

But after Uehara gave up two more homers on Thursday, leaving him with a yield of 10 runs in his last 4 2/3 innings, manager John Farrell told reporters after the Red Sox’ 5-4 walkoff loss to the Yankees that the team may have to reconsider that stance.

“Anytime you give up a lead in the fashion that we did, those are tough games to take.We’€™d given Koji eight days off, got him an inning of work the other night and still the lack of finish of his split is what allowed a couple pitches to the middle of the plate for a couple home runs,” Farrell told reporters. “From viewing it and even talking to Koji, it’€™s the finish, whether it’€™s the intensity behind the delivery of the pitch’€¦ on occasion he showed it, the first one had good depth to it on the swing and miss, but the consistency to it, which he’€™s been so good with, that’€™s lacking.

“[How the team uses Uehara going forward will] be a situation where I’€™ll talk with Koji first, what our plan will be, whether that’€™s extended rest, whether that’€™s the potential of shutting him down, that, we just walked off the field and out of respect to Koji, respect for what he’€™s done for us after two outstanding years, we’€™re not in position to announce that right now.”

Entering Thursday, Uehara ranked ninth in the big leagues since the start of 2013 with 135 1/3 relief innings and was tied for 15th with 133 games pitched. He also had 13 postseason appearances spanning 13 2/3 innings last October.

Uehara did not make himself available to English-speaking reporters after suffering his fifth loss and third in five appearances, but in brief remarks to members of the Japanese media, he suggested that his mechanics were entirely out of whack and accepted full responsibility for the loss.

Given his pending free agency, a mandated stretch of inactivity in deference to potential fatigue could be costly for Uehara come this winter. Then again, so could the continuation of his current struggles on the mound, which have seen Uehara blow each of his last three save opportunities while giving up more earned runs (10) in his last six than he’d permitted in his first 55 games this year (8).

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