With Koji on DL, Ziegler to serve as closer

With Koji on DL, Ziegler to serve as closer

BOSTON -- With interim Red Sox closer Koji Uehara on the 15-day disabled list with a right pectoral strain, right-hander Brad Ziegler will, for the most part, get a majority of the save situations.

On Wednesday, Red Sox manager John Farrell announced he'll go to Ziegler in the ninth, except when facing a string of lefties.

"Ziegler will be our closer," Farrell said, "but there may be some left-handed situations that if we're facing a string of left-handers, there could be other options in our bullpen to close out. I don't want to just rule that out, but as far as building a game and working back to a closer, it's Brad in that spot."

For now, that situation applies to the top half of San Francisco's batting order in lefties Denard Span, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and switch-hitter Angel Pagan. Span singled against Ziegler with two outs in the eighth on Tuesday while Pagan grounded out to end the inning. Farrell said it's possible that either southpaws Robby Ross Jr. or Tommy Layne may step up in that case.

The Red Sox will have a thorough update on the severity of Uehera's injury after Wednesday night's game.

"He's going for an MRI right now, but it's nothing more than we anticipated after being examined last night," said Farrell. "We'll get more detailed information, but he's got some soreness in the right pec. But the severity to it, that'll be answered a little bit later this evening."

Uehara exits with injury

Right-hander Joe Kelly was considered to fill the void in the bullpen since tossing two dominant relief appearances for Triple-A Pawtucket. He struck out six while allowing just two hits in three innings. Since right-hander Junichi Tazawa is expected to be activated on Friday, Farrell didn't want Kelly to come up for just a day or two.

In addition, Farrell is looking for the reliever to build up endurance before returning to Boston. Kelly's role in the bullpen is yet to be determined on whether he'll be a one inning guy or more. Just to be safe, the Red Sox need Kelly to be versatile.

"He had missed a decent amount of time," said Farrell. "If he's getting through an inning at a Minor League level on 12 pitches, we [have] got to be sure that he can go 25 to 35 pitches. So we just want to build up some endurance. That's not to say he couldn't fit into a one-inning role once he comes here, but that will be determined by game situations,"

Ziegler said his role as either a setup man or a closer won't make an impact on his delivery or style, which is pitching to contact. But he does believe he'll have a higher ground ball rate in Boston based on its location.

"It might help me being in a place that's at sea level with humidity," said Ziegler. "I didn't get that a lot [in the] NL West. You know what? The infields are the same size in every park, and that's where I'm trying to keep the ball for the most part. If they get it to the outfield, then hopefully they do it with minimal damage and it only happens once."

With Uehara on the DL, Boston recalled right-hander Noe Ramirez from Triple-A Pawtucket.

Craig Kimbrel, who underwent left knee arthroscopy and partial medial meniscectomy on July 11, threw out to 90 feet on flat ground Wednesday. If his recovery goes as smoothly as planned, his next step is throwing a bullpen session.

"He's feeling pretty darn good," Farrell said. "He had a very positive exam yesterday. We're hopeful that he gets out to 100-120 feet in the next couple of days as far as his flat-ground catch goes. That next step after that flat ground, hopefully that's in the coming days."

Deesha Thosar is a reporter for MLB.com based in Boston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.