PHILADELPHIA — With Tyler Thornburg done for the season, all eyes for bullpen help turn to Carson Smith.
The righty reliever coming back from Tommy John surgery needs some medical clearance before moving any further.
Smith threw Thursday at Citizens Bank Park and could begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday if an upcoming exam in Boston goes well.
He left Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon, as did lefty Brian Johnson, who has inflammation in his throwing shoulder and is to be checked out in Boston as well.
Smith has dealt with soreness in his shoulder and lat as he’s come back. The Red Sox didn’t sound the alarm bells by having Smith go for an exam, with Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski saying it was a planned possibility.
At the same time, it doesn’t sound like a simple formality.
“It was OK. I would say OK,” Farrell said of Smith’s mound session Thursday. “The stuff was OK maybe the consistency wasn’t quite there. But honestly, I think that’s to be fully expected. He’s going to go through some minor peaks and valleys as he continues to build up to game competition. So I think what he’s going through right now might be a little frustrating for him, given all the rehab and time he’s gone through. But these are normal progressive steps to getting back to full strength.
“Where he’s needed some added time, the last time to give him a couple extra days was more of the lat muscle, not necessarily the shoulder or the elbow. So he’s getting back into shape. That’s where getting accustomed or re-accustomed to the volume is coming in play.”
Smith said at the start of June that his shoulder has bothered him at times. But he and the team said they feel it's expected.
“I don’t know if he’s going to go on rehab or what we’re going to do with him at this point,” Dombrowski said. “But it was always the plan, the possibility for him to go back there [to Boston] and we’ll just evaluate how he feels tomorrow and then go from there.
“He’s having normal soreness as anybody would at this time. … Not even necessarily in his elbow, just normal soreness when he’s throwing. So we’ll just analyze it, see how he’s doing.”
Righty Hector Velazquez, who filled in admirably for Johnson on Wednesday night after Johnson left after 2 2/3 innings, is to make Johnson’s next start in the rotation.
Johnson is on the disabled list and Austin Maddox was added to the roster in his place. Roenis Elias was transferred to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Maddox, who's in the majors for the first time, on the 40-man roster.