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Kelly, Smith progressing toward return to 'pen

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

SEATTLE -- Key setup man Joe Kelly took another important step toward his return to action by firing a 25-pitch bullpen session at Fenway Park on Tuesday.

"That was an encouraging bullpen by Joe today," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He threw 80 to 85 percent [intensity]. His next bullpen will be on Friday when we get back home. So he's making pretty good progress for sure."

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SEATTLE -- Key setup man Joe Kelly took another important step toward his return to action by firing a 25-pitch bullpen session at Fenway Park on Tuesday.

"That was an encouraging bullpen by Joe today," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He threw 80 to 85 percent [intensity]. His next bullpen will be on Friday when we get back home. So he's making pretty good progress for sure."

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Kelly, who hasn't pitched since the All-Star break due to a left hamstring strain, could be ready for a brief Minor League rehab assignment by early next week.

"I think clearly Joe feels like -- and we do also -- that at least one outing at the Minor League level to feel [at] game speed will be a help," said Farrell.

The Red Sox have missed the power righty, who has been Farrell's top setup man for most of the season. Kelly has a 1.49 ERA in 34 apperances this season.

Sidewinder Carson Smith is also hoping to be part of Boston's bullpen in the coming weeks. The righty had a 20-pitch side session at Safeco Field on Tuesday and hasn't pitched since undergoing Tommy John surgery in May 2016. Smith could be close to facing hitters, which is his next necessary step before going on a rehab assignment.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Joe Kelly, Carson Smith