Red Sox manager Alex Cora doubts Carson Smith’s fatigue excuse

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 08: Carson Smith
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 08: Carson Smith /

Carson Smith blames fatigue as a factor leading to his shoulder injury but Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora disagrees with that assessment.

The Boston Red Sox placed right-handed reliever Carson Smith on the disabled list this week with a shoulder subluxation. Smith reportedly hurt his shoulder by throwing his glove in disgust after returning to the dugout following an ineffective inning.

A pitcher who makes a living throwing a baseball getting injured by throwing his glove sounds like a freak accident. There has to be more to the story, right?

Smith seems to think so. The right-hander told reporters that fatigue played a factor in his shoulder injury.

"“I think my shoulder’s tired in general, it’s just from pitching,” said Smith, per NBC Sports Boston’s Evan Drellich. “I’ve thrown a lot lately and I think my arm was just tired.”"

If Smith is claiming that throwing too much made his shoulder more susceptible to injury, he’s essentially throwing his manager under the bus by implying he was overworked.

Unsurprisingly, Alex Cora isn’t buying that excuse. The Red Sox manager told reporters on Wednesday that he disagrees with Smith’s assessment that fatigue was to blame for the injury. Cora stated that he checks in with his relievers every day. Smith had let him know that he was ready and available to pitch the night he was injured.

Does Smith have a point about being used too much?

Smith is tied for the most appearances on the pitching staff with 18, although he’s tied with essentially every key contributor in the bullpen. Craig Kimbrel, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, and Matt Barnes have made the same number of appearances. Each has logged more innings than Smith’s 14 1/3 this season.

It’s not as if Boston’s bullpen has been overworked in general. Red Sox relievers are only 20th in the majors with a collective 143 2/3 innings this season.

Smith’s workload hasn’t been heavy by the standards of his own team or compared to any major league bullpen. However, not all relievers can be utilized the same way. Smith has tossed a total of only 9 1/3 innings in the majors over the last two seasons, missing the majority of that time due to Tommy John surgery. It’s not unreasonable to believe he needs to be eased into his first full post-surgery season.

More from Red Sox News

The Red Sox called on Smith six times over the nine games leading up to his injury. He only pitched 4 2/3 innings over those nine games but that doesn’t factor in the work he puts his shoulder through to warm up for those appearances. While his workload wouldn’t be considered excessive by any means, it could be a bit much for a pitcher who hasn’t pitched much in the last few years.

Even if Smith should have been treated with kid gloves, that doesn’t necessarily put the manager at fault. Cora came to town with a well-deserved reputation for being a great communicator. He says he has an open line of communication with his bullpen and there’s no reason to doubt that based on that reputation. Smith knows better than anyone how his body is feeling. How is Cora to blame for Smith being too worn down to perform that night if the pitcher isn’t being honest?

Was his shoulder weakened by an excessive workload? Did that have anything to do with why he got hurt? Hard to say. If fatigue was a factor then Smith needs to own his share of the blame for not letting the coaching staff know how his body was responding to recent usage. Blaming the coaching staff is a bad look for Smith.

Perhaps Smith wasn’t intending to pass blame to the coaching staff but it sure seems like Cora is interpreting his comments that way. Why else would he be defensive by telling reporters he disagrees with the cause of Smith’s injury?

Next: Beeks highlights this week's Prospect Watch

The Red Sox were no strangers to drama last season, which drew the ire of the fanbase. Smith has spent the majority of his time with the organization on the disabled list. If he creates turmoil in the clubhouse by questioning the manager it will only make Red Sox fans more eager to run him out of town.