DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Red Sox have seen enough encouraging signs from side-winder Carson Smith in his return from Tommy John surgery to think he could be ready to be back in their bullpen by June.Smith threw his first side session of Spring Training earlier this week."Three days ago was
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Red Sox have seen enough encouraging signs from side-winder Carson Smith in his return from Tommy John surgery to think he could be ready to be back in their bullpen by June.
Smith threw his first side session of Spring Training earlier this week.
"Three days ago was his first full-length bullpen, and it was very good -- surprisingly good," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "The action and just the velocity he showed his first time out was encouraging. We have to temper our excitement based on what we saw the other day, because we know there are going to be peaks and valleys that he goes through, just like any pitcher will go through coming back from Tommy John. His 'pen the other day was really good."
The return of Smith would be a significant addition for the Boston bullpen. For the Mariners in 2015, the righty had a 2.31 ERA while notching 92 strikeouts over 70 innings. He would bolster a setup crew that includes Joe Kelly, Tyler Thornburg, Robbie Ross Jr. and Richard Hembree.
"Mid-January, there were some things he was able to get through physically that allowed him to take off a little bit in terms of the progression," said Farrell. "He's done everything that we could have hoped. We know there's going to be some short-term soreness he goes through as the intensity continues to climb. Provided there's no setbacks, we're hopeful of a June arrival to us."
• Thornburg, shut down from game activity since March 1, had a successful return in a Minor League game on Friday. The righty fired 20 pitches -- 13 of them for strikes. He struck out two. Thornburg had been idle so he could build up arm strength and work on mechanics. It seemed to work.
"He showed good velocity," Farrell said. "Pitched at 92 up to 94. Good first work day for him."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.