Kimbrel activated from DL; Kelly optioned

Kimbrel activated from DL; Kelly optioned

SEATTLE -- Exactly three weeks after undergoing left knee surgery, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel was activated and earned the save in Monday's 2-1 win over Seattle.

Kimbrel enjoyed being thrown right into the fire.

"Absolutely. That's my job," said Kimbrel, who converted his 18th save in 20 chances.

When Kimbrel was diagnosed with a torn meniscus, the Red Sox estimated his recovery time would be three to six weeks. He was pleased to return as quick as he did.

The game ended with Kimbrel throwing a nasty curveball to strike out Adam Lind.

"We've put a lot of work in to get me where I am," said Kimbrel. "I haven't hit a lot of speedbumps so it's been great. I'm getting a little tired of watching the games on TV. I'm ready to get down to the bullpen and watch it from there."

To make room for Kimbrel on the roster, right-hander Joe Kelly was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Brad Ziegler had been holding down the ninth inning for the Red Sox with Kimbrel and Koji Uehara (strained right pectoral muscle) on the disabled list at the same time, but the side-winder can now move to the eighth inning.

Kimbrel needed just one Minor League rehab appearance before returning to the Red Sox.

With Kimbrel back in action and lefty reliever Fernando Abad acquired in a trade with the Twins on Monday, Kelly was caught in a roster crunch. Clay Buchholz's recent success in the bullpen made it easier to send Kelly down.

"With Craig coming back to us, we had to make room," said manager John Farrell. "We're still at the point of preserving as much starting depth as possible. Clay threw outstanding yesterday. As much as we talked about Joe transitioning and progressing, a lot needs to be said how Clay has settled into that role and some slight adjustments with the arm slot that has allowed his stuff to play up more consistently."

Kelly made three relief appearances for the Red Sox, allowing four hits and a run over 3 2/3 innings while walking two and striking out one. He was dominant in the Pawtucket bullpen, striking out nine and walking one in five innings.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.