Boston Red Sox could place Joe Kelly on the DL to start the season


Joe Kelly‘s arm is going to be just fine. The right-hander hasn’t had any setbacks related to the biceps tightness that sidetracked him this spring, so there is little reason for concern that this will develop into a major problem entering the season. That being said, even if Kelly is ready, it doesn’t mean that the Boston Red Sox won’t consider placing him on the disabled list before Opening Day.

The reason for considering this has less to do with Kelly’s health and more to do with taking advantage of their early season schedule. Manager John Farrell explained the benefits of this potential move to reporters on Monday, as reported by Scott Lauber in the Boston Herald.

"“The first time we would need a fifth starter would be on (April 12),” said Farrell. “That’s all being factored into this as well. There’s one scenario that could have us break with eight relievers.”"

Boston opens the season on April 6 in Philadelphia, followed by an off day on April 7. That would allow them to use their Opening Day starter (presumably Clay Buchholz) on regular rest for the fifth game of the season on April 11 in New York.

Kelly exited his start on March 16 with tightness in his biceps. Farrell confirmed that Kelly exhibited no restrictions during bullpen sessions since then and the manager anticipates that he will be ready to start the season.

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Regardless of if he is ready, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to give Kelly a couple extra days to be sure. Especially if it means that the Red Sox can carry an extra reliever for the first five games. This could give Matt Barnes a chance to break camp with the team, or perhaps Tommy Layne, if the team prefers having another lefty available.

Boston won’t want to push any of their starters too much early in the season, which may have them relying on their bullpen a bit more the first time through the rotation. The added depth will also allow the Red Sox to conserve some innings from their 40-year old closer, Koji Uehara, who has dealt with a hamstring issue this spring.

As long as Kelly doesn’t appear in a big-league game for the rest of spring training, the Red Sox can backdate his DL stint to allow him to return in time to start the game on April 12. This is why he is scheduled to start a minor-league game on Friday, rather than facing the Atlanta Braves in a Grapefruit League game. If Kelly does begin the year on the DL, he will likely stay behind in Fort Myers to make a start in extended spring training prior to rejoining the team.

"“That would all be part of the planning and the thinking,” said Farrell. “Not planning at this point, because that decision has not been made. It’s an option available to us.”"

It certainly sounds like a reasonable option. While the decision may not have officially been made yet, it would be a bit of a surprise if the Red Sox didn’t take advantage of the opportunity. If Kelly is placed on the DL, there is no reason to panic. It may be partially due to the Red Sox being cautious with the right-hander, but more than anything, it’s just smart roster management.

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