Kimbrel nearing return, slated for 'pen session

Farrell says Red Sox closer 'doing very good right now'; Uehara receives plasma injection

Kimbrel nearing return, slated for 'pen session

BOSTON -- Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel is nearing the finish line of his recovery on the 15-day disabled list for a left knee medial meniscus tear. The right-hander is set to throw a 20-pitch bullpen session Sunday or Monday.

The 28-year-old underwent surgery July 11 and has been working to get back on the mound as quickly as possible.

"Craig is doing very good right now," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "I think right now we'd like to get two bullpens in before we head to the West Coast. Whether or not Craig travels with us remains to be seen. He could be getting that close to a rehab appearance. But still, there's very good progress being made there."

The Red Sox will open an 11-game West Coast trip July 28 before returning home for a midweek series against the Yankees on Aug. 9. If Kimbrel gets through his bullpen sessions smoothly, the next step will be a simulation game at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Zinkie on Red Sox bullpen

Since Kimbrel has only missed nine games, the question of how many simulation games the closer can throw will be answered after he's evaluated in the 'pen.

"We need to get some PFP [pitchers' fielding practice] involved here," Farrell said. "Which is some change in direction, field in position, those types of things. But in terms of amount of time missed and the fact that he's able to get as aggressive right now in long toss, I would think it'll be on the shorter end of number of appearances if it's even more than one."

In 34 appearances, Kimbrel has a 3.55 ERA with 50 strikeouts, holding opponents to a .178 batting average. The closer may be a little antsy.

"He feels very good," Farrell said. "If he wasn't making the decision medically, he'd probably say give me the ball tonight. That's how good he feels. So that's encouraging. But still we have to go through the proper steps to get him back."

On the other spectrum, right-hander Koji Uehara received a platelet rich plasma injection Friday. Uehara went on the 15-day DL on July 20 with a right pectoral strain.

Uehara exits with injury

The Red Sox are still uncertain of how long his recovery will take, but his tolerance to the injection is a factor.

"This is obviously mostly muscle," Farrell said. "There's not a ligament involved here. If it was an elbow, you might be looking at a longer period. Still, there's no number of days that says Koji's going to put a ball back in his hand. Right now it's just getting back from the soreness of the injection."

When asked how the bullpen, which posted a 1.17 ERA in the past 11 games entering Saturday, has held up without Kimbrel and Uehara, Farrell said he was impressed. Boston's relievers allowed zero runs in eight of those 11 games.

"They've stepped up," the manager said. "It's a good group, it's a close-knit group I'll tell you that. So when a guy goes down, they're waiting in the wings to be elevated in responsibility. So far, we've been able to hold things off."

Worth noting

Outfielders Blake Swihart and Chris Young are progressing on their respective roads to recovery. Swihart is out with a left ankle sprain while Young is coming back from a right hamstring strain.

"We're starting to get a little progress with some guys," Farrell said. "Chris is finally starting to hit on the field, he'll start to do a little more ground baserunning outside; he's been on the treadmill last couple days. Blake, this is just starting back up for him. There was some talk-back by his ankle after he started to ramp some things up."

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.