Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara on the return of his split: 'It's still not there'

Rob Bradford
September 11, 2014 - 7:55 am

Koji Uehara has been through this before, that doesn't make it any easier. Talking prior to the Red Sox' series finale against the Orioles Wednesday, Uehara admitted that while he is familiar with the realities that come with the kind of stretch he finds himself on -- having experienced such a downturn in 2011. But he also noted that doesn't guarantee any quick fixes. "It's still not there," he said through a translator regarding the life on his split-finger fastball. Uehara threw an extended bullpen session Tuesday, having still not pitched in a game since Sept. 4. In his last six outings -- starting Aug. 16 -- he has totaled a 19.29 ERA (10 runs, 4.2 innings), with opponents hitting an even .500. "It's more mental," Uehara explained. "Once I go up against the hitter I might be able to get it back, but that's something I'll have to do in a game." The timing of Uehara's issues with the Rangers were eerily similar, although not as striking as his current plight. In '11, his first hiccup came on Aug. 17 and extended to Sept. 11, encompassing a 7.71 ERA in nine appearances (6 runs, 7 innings). The good news for Uehara is that the results were altered dramatically over his final seven outings in '11, not allowing a run and just one hit. Still, even with the improvement, the righty didn't feel his problems had been totally resolved by the time the regular season came to an end. It's why he remains somewhat skeptical regarding the current timetable. "I think there are some similarities," he said, citing that the stretch in Texas was also not related to any physical issues. "I feel like it might be a little bit difficult to be completely there by the end of the season because in Texas I finished off in kind of a bad way. So we'll see." As for reclaiming his role as a closer by season's end, or worrying about what the results might mean to his impending free agency, Uehara said he isn't getting sidetracked for such issues. "To me it's not too big a deal to become a closer. I just want to be healthy and finish out the season," said Uehara, who then added, "Right now I don't think about who I'm going to be playing for. I'm just going to do my best and see what happens in free agency."