The collective gasps could be heard throughout Red Sox Nation.
Koji Uehara felt some should stiffness and was unavailable for the Red Sox on Friday night against the Yankees. Edward Mujica stepped in and closed out the Yankees in the ninth inning to preserve a 4-2 win.
Marc Bertrand joins Lou Merloni on Sports Tonight to discuss Uehara's situation and how the Red Sox proceed.
Red Sox manager John Farrell tried to downplay the situation after the game.
"Before the game today, Koji felt a little stiffness (in his shoulder) in his throwing program,'' explained Farrell, "so we thought it was best to stay away from him, more precautionary. This will be a day-to-day type thing and we'll check him (Saturday) on his availability.'
"We knew before the game that he was going to be unavailable. Based on what Koji's expressed about the stiffness, this doesn't seem to be (the result of) a one-pitch injury type thing. He just felt some stiffness and we wanted to stay away from him.''
Is this situation just a tiny bump in the road or, two weeks into the season, is it already time to break out the panic button? That depends on what the ultimate diagnosis turns out to be.
“Is it because he’s been overused?" asks Bertrand. "Is it because he’s been throwing 19 pitches in a game the Red Sox had a four-run lead in? Or maybe he’s just 38 and you’ve just got to protect a guy who’s 38 years old. This is a legitimate concern for this guy going forward. They need to be careful with how often they use him and the situations they use him in. I don’t think they’ve used a lot of caution with him so far.”
Fortunately, the Red Sox brought in Mujica as an insurance policy in the offseason. He was shelled in his first Red Sox ninth-inning appearance against the Brewers, but looked good on Friday in shutting down the Yankees.
“This is why you went out and got Mujica," says Merloni. "I wouldn’t mind at all if they sat [Uehara] for a couple weeks and took your shots . . . I would be careful with this guy."
Sitting Uehara might not be a popular decision, but if it means preserving the man who last season recorded one of the most dominant stretches in baseball history, it might not be a bad investment.