Uehara proving he can handle workload
BOSTON -- Closer A got hurt, Closer B got hurt, and Closer C has been among the best in baseball.
Koji Uehara feels no pressure in his new role. He's reassuring both with his words and performance. As Andrew Bailey considers season-ending surgery and Joel Hanrahan has already had it, the ninth-inning duties have fallen to Uehara, who the Red Sox never mentioned as a possible closer candidate in Spring Training.
Since taking over the role in late June, the 38-year-old Uehara had allowed just one earned run on five hits over 13 1/3 innings entering play Saturday. Of the 40 outs he'd recorded, 19 of them had been via strikeout.
"It's something I have experienced before," said Uehara, who closed with the Orioles briefly in 2010 and spent 2007 as the closer for Yomiuri in the Japan Central League. "I'm settled in."
The concerns, though, had been around Uehara's usage on back-to-back days. He's been somewhat delicate over his Major League career, averaging 51 innings per season. But he's collected saves on back-to-back days twice, even going back-to-back-to-back once in late June.
He needed just seven pitches to close out the Yankees on Friday in an outing he called "easy."
"He's a quality strike thrower," Farrell said. "And there's a difference between quality strikes and strikes in general. And he's so deceptive with that splitter that it's not uncommon to see eight-to-11-pitch innings. So that does give us the ability to use him, whether it's consecutive days or three days in a row, as we've done."