Jenks back to DL, Randy Williams up

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Jenks back to DL, Randy Williams up

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. For the third time this season, reliever Bobby Jenks is heading to the disabled list, reducing the Red Sox' bullpen depth with two weeks to go before the July 31 trade deadline.

Jenks experienced a flareup of back stiffness when he attempted to warm up Friday night in the Red Sox' 9-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

To replace Jenks on the roster, the team purchased the contract of journeyman lefty Randy Williams. Williams had not been on the 40-man roster, so the Sox designated lefty Tommy Hottovy to make room for his addition.

"I'm excited and a little bit surprised," said Williams. "I was hoping I would get a chance."

Williams has spent parts of four seasons in the big leagues with Seattle, San Diego, Colorado, and the Chicago White Sox, totaling 90 games.

"He's been dominating left-hand hitters," Francona said. "His velocity has been tremendous and it gives us that second lefty where we can match up. His true calling is matching up against lefties and we've wanted to get a look at him anyway. He's that guy who you send to Triple A and say, 'Do your job and you never know.' And here it is."

In 19 games with the Pawsox this season, Williams was 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA and six saves, having struck out 26 in 21 innings of work. He gives Francona a second lefty in the bullpen
to team with Franklin Morales.

Jenks had been on the DL from June 8 to June 28 with the same back stiffness. Earlier in the season, he was placed on the DL with a right biceps strain.

Signed to a two-year, 12 million deal in the off-season, Jenks hasn't been healthy or productive long enough to contribute.

"Not yet," acknowledged Francona. "That's an important part of our bullpen, that compliment to Daniel Bard, or in the seventh inning, or however you want to put it. Fortunately, Matt Albers has been tremendous and Alfredo Aceves, too. But that other arm is a huge arm...We haven't had him out there healthy. We miss that."

Jenks has appeared in just 19 games, going 2-2 with a 6.32 ERA. Opposing batters have hit .328 against him and his WHIP is an unsightly 2.23.

Jenks is scheduled to return to Boston Saturday night and will be examined by the team's medical staff Sunday.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

BOSTON — Tyler Thornburg’s gone for the season and there’s really no telling when the other set-up man the Sox expected to help in 2017, Carson Smith, will be back.

The Sox have already made inroads, if minor ones, in bolstering their third-base situation and rotation. Smith’s situation leaves a question of whether the Sox will need to pursue help in the bullpen as well.

There's not an easy answer to settle on at this point.

For one, the timetable with the right-hander Smith — whose shoulder has bothered him on the way back from Tommy John surgery — isn’t clear.

“He's in a no-throw [time] through the weekend,” Sox manager John Farrell said Friday afternoon at Fenway Park. “He'll be reevaluated on Monday to hopefully initiate a throwing program. He's responding favorably to the treatment. He continues to rehab as he's been. We have not closed the book in a sense on anything Carson can contribute this year.”

What does this year mean, though? Will they be able to know by July, by the trade deadline?

“Still too early to tell,” Farrell said. “We thought he was days from starting his rehab assignment after his last live BP session in New York [on June 6]. Unfortunately, that was put on hold for the time being. To get into any kind of timeframes, timetables, I don't know that any of us can predict that right now.”

The Sox relievers have done extraordinarily well without either Thornburg or Smith. Can that continue without reinforcements? The bullpen’s ERA entering Friday was 2.94, the second best mark in the majors. Its innings total, 217, was the second. lowest in the majors. 

So it’s not like the entire group is about to collapse from fatigue. But a guy like Joe Kelly, for example, isn’t someone the Sox want to use back to back.

It’s a young group and ultimately an inexperienced group. But Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has already fallen into the trap of trading for premium set-up men twice, and that’s a dangerous road to pursue again. Perhaps a smaller trade makes more sense.

“Well, at this point, we’re open minded to help,” Dombrowski said when asked if he was targeting either third-base or relief help. “I’m not going to get into specifics at this time on what else we’re looking for. Keep an open mind on a lot of ways on which we can improve. We have guys coming back and both the spots, I think Carson Smith is very important to us and our bullpen has pitched great. The other day, we struggled but that was one of the few times we really struggled all year. 

“I think Carson still has a chance to come back and help us this year.”

 

Pedroia returns

Dustin Pedroia (ribcage) was out of the initial Red Sox lineup on Friday but was later added. Farrell said in the afternoon that Pedroia would be available by emergency Fridayand expected to be back in the lineup Saturday, but clearly, something changed.

Red Sox claim right-hander Doug Fister off waivers

Red Sox claim right-hander Doug Fister off waivers

Right-handed starter Doug Fister, who opted out of his contract with the Angels, has been claimed off waivers by the Red Sox, CSN Red Sox Insider Evan Drellich has confirmed.

The news was first reported by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation, who writes that Fister, 33, will join the Red Sox immediately.

Fister opted out of with the Angels after three Triple-A starts in Salt Lake City, where he allowed seven runs on 16 hits with five walks and 10 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. 

With Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson on the DL, the Red Sox need immediate starting pitching help. Triple-A Pawtucket call-up Hector Velazquez made a spot start earlier this week in the fifth spot behind Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, David Price and Drew Pomeranz. 

Fister will receive $1.75 million in the majors from the Red Sox, with $1.2 million available in additional incentives, according to Cotillo. 

Fister has pitched eight seasons in the majors, including 2016 with the Astros, going 12-13 with 4.64 ERA in 180 1/3 innings. His best season was 2014 with the Nationals (16-6, 2.41 ERA).