Alex Cora on D&K indicates Carson Smith could be out for season

Alex Reimer
May 16, 2018 - 3:21 pm

Red Sox manager Alex Cora didn’t confirm oft-injured reliever Carson Smith is out for the season during his weekly interview with Dale & Keefe Wednesday. But the skipper strongly hinted Smith, who was starting to pitch more regularly, will be out for a long time with his shoulder subluxation. 

“He was turning the corner. There was an at-bat in New York against (Aaron) Hicks. He threw two or three changeups, where from the first base dugout it looked like they were sliders,” Cora said. “I was like, ‘He’s getting there.’ But too bad. We’ve got to move on. Let’s be honest, he’s not going to help us right now, and we’ve got to find other guys who can step up in the bullpen.”

With Smith out of the mix for now, Cora says he’ll continue to rely on a mix of arms in the eighth inning, including Matt Barnes and Joe Kelly. While the bullpen has received lots of attention in recent weeks, the starting pitchers have been problematic, posting an ERA close to 5.00 over the last 18 games. David Price, who revealed last week he’s suffering from mild carpal tunnel syndrome, is culpable for a portion of the rotation’s struggles.

Cora said he was encouraged by Price’s five-inning outing Saturday in Toronto, and thinks the hurler is healthy. “The thing that is not going on is elbow or shoulder, which is very important for us,” Cora explained. “In between starts, there’s a lot of work going on in the training room. But he feels he’s healthy, he can pitch the rest of the season, and he’s made some adjustments –– which I love. He’s changing speeds, using his changeup. For him to be the guy we want, he has to make adjustments. Let’s be honest, the league is in a state right now where (hitters) are hunting fastballs. If you’re pitching at the same speed, they’re going to do damage.”

The Red Sox have also been dogged with poor performances at the bottom of their lineup, which is why Jackie Bradley Jr. now finds himself on the bench more regularly. JBJ is currently losing at-bats to the offensively superior Mitch Moreland, and Cora says he doesn’t see that changing for the foreseeable future. Bradley is out of the lineup again Wednesday. 

“It feels like (Bradley) became way too rotational with his swing,” Cora said. “He wasn’t able to relax or reload, and just throw his hands. That’s where we’re at right now. In Toronto there were some strides, but not where we want him to be. I feel like if there’s a tough guy on the mound against left-handed hitters, we should play our best left-handed hitters, which is Mitch Moreland. His at-bats are outstanding.”

The offensive woes of Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon have also factored into the Red Sox’ struggles. Even though the Red Sox have the worst OPS at catcher in the league, Blake Swihart remains stapled to the bench most days, leading his agent to reportedly ask for a trade. 

Despite that, Cora says he’s sticking with Vazquez and Leon for now. 

“I was the 25th player for a while. So I know there are certain days where (Swihart) doesn’t like me coming into the clubhouse, and I understand that,” Cora said. “But you’ve got to give him credit, he shows up and takes grounders at third, second, first, takes fly balls in left field, catches bullpen. He’s always ready late in the game if we need to use him.

“I feel comfortable with the other two guys. They do a good job of calling games, shutting down the running game. Let’s be honest, putting him in a spot right now after 42 games, it’s not easy to just go out there and perform at this level. It’s nothing against him, we just feel very comfortable with the other two guys.”

Dale & Keefe - Alex Cora responds to Blake Swihart's trade request & Carson's Smith's self-induced injury, 5-16-18

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