Wow. I think I may have spoken way too soon when I wrote my previous article about Koji Uehara, the amazing reliever for the Boston Red Sox. I had mentioned that it felt good that Boston had an ace reliever while the New York Yankees have been dealing with the injury to their closer, David Robertson.
No more than 24 hours later, it is reported that Uehara is suffering from shoulder stiffness. Red Sox Nation was wondering why Uehara didn’t warm up towards the end of Friday night’s game and that was the reason. When a pitcher is 39 years old and has an injury history, shoulder stiffness is not a phrase you want to hear.
It is being downplayed a bit and Uehara has said that he doesn’t think this is serious. However, the shoulder stiffness he is having is in the same place as the injury he suffered with the Texas Rangers a few years back that kept him out for a few months.
Quite simply, any loss of Uehara for an extended period of time is going to hurt the Red Sox. He has become a difference maker and as it stands at this moment, perhaps the best closer in all of the MLB. I remember watching a very close game against the Los Angeles Dodgers where they were mounting a comeback against Boston’s bullpen. I kept on thinking, just get the ball to Koji and everything will be okay. And it was.
Uehara is the player that the Red Sox can least afford to lose for any length of time. That’s counting David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. Uehara is the most valuable of valuable commodities, a lockdown closer for a team trying to contend.
Thank god, Boston saw this coming at some point and signed Edward Mujica. He will be a good backup. Right now though, he is no Koji. No one is.