Smith ready to throw off mound on Sunday

Smith ready to throw off mound on Sunday

CLEVELAND -- Red Sox reliever Carson Smith will throw off a mound on Sunday for the first time since sustaining a flexor mass strain in his right elbow on March 21.

Manager John Farrell is encouraged by the progress the side-winder has made and the hope remains that Smith returns in short order.

"Yeah, he threw the ball at 90 feet today with good intensity," Farrell said on Thursday. "He'll play catch again one more time before he gets on the mound this Sunday down in Fort Myers [Fla.]. This past week has been an encouraging one from the standpoint of the intensity, number of throws, the distance. He's progressing at a good rate right now."

The void while Smith is out is a significant one. The Red Sox don't want to overextend setup men Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa. Matt Barnes will be asked to get most of the outs the club was counting on from Smith.

The Red Sox know it would be counterproductive to rush Smith.

"He'd be back as soon as possible, but whether it's been Eddie [Rodriguez], whether it's been Carson, you're looking at different phases and the bullpen phase begins Sunday," Farrell said. "And you almost have to evaluate it because there's different stress points with intensity at each step along the way. The most encouraging thing is he's getting closer to the mound."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.