Smith clears hurdle with first rehab outing

Back from Tommy John surgery, Red Sox reliever hadn't pitched since March 2016

Smith clears hurdle with first rehab outing

BOSTON -- For the first time in 17 months, Red Sox reliever Carson Smith took the mound in a competitive game.

The right-hander, who last pitched in a game March 14, 2016, for Boston before undergoing Tommy John surgery, started for Double-A Portland on Saturday and allowed two earned runs and three walks over one-third of an inning.

Smith did not surrender a hit, but took the loss after throwing just 18 pitches, including five for strikes.

Results aside, the first major hurdle was cleared in the anticipated return of a valuable reliever whom the Sox acquired in a trade before the 2016 season.

"He's on rehab," manager John Farrell said after the Red Sox's 4-1 win over the White Sox at Fenway Park. "He's going to take some time. He came out of it fine. He threw a number of balls. The command wasn't there. But for the first time, he came out of it healthy."

Though the road back to Boston may still be lengthy for Smith, each rehab outing brings him closer to rejoining the big club.

Despite the numbers from his first game in a year and half, the most important aspect of his appearance is that there will be another assignment in three days at Triple-A Pawtucket.

"He showed decent arm strength," Farrell said. "His next outing would be Tuesday with Pawtucket."

Craig Forde is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.