Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell was noncommittal Thursday when discussing who could be the team’s closer if/when Koji Uehara is unavailable.
Edward Mujica, however, is very committed to being ready if his name is called.
“For me, confidence is an important thing,” Mujica told the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato on Wednesday in Fort Myers, Fla. “If they gave me that confidence and told me, ‘Mujica, you’re going to be in the ninth tonight,’ I’m going to be ready for it.”
Uehara is battling a strained left hamstring he suffered Tuesday while running before a spring training game at JetBlue Park. He told reporters Wednesday he “should be ready” for Opening Day, though he also acknowledged it might be a “close call.”
As such, the Red Sox would be wise to develop a contingency plan in the event Uehara isn’t ready for their April 6 season opener against the Philadelphia Phillies. Farrell on Thursday pointed to Mujica, who filled in as Boston’s closer last season, and Alexi Ogando as potential ninth-inning options.
“It depends on matchups, history, who has pitched recently,” Farrell told reporters. “There could be a number of things that come into play. I can’t say just always ride the hot hand. Those guys are going to find themselves in the highest leverage and that could be in the seventh inning as well, depending where we are in the lineup.”
Mujica, who signed a two-year, $9.5 million contract before the 2014 season, had an up-and-down first campaign with Boston. He stumbled out of the gate — something he now attributes to a nagging neck injury — and ended up with a 3.90 ERA in 64 appearances despite a solid second half in which he posted a 1.78 ERA. The 30-year-old saved 37 games with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013, though, and his strong 2014 stretch run plus the ample experience could vault him into the Red Sox’s closer role this season if Uehara can’t go.
“When they have that kind of confidence, for me it’s pretty good,” Mujica told Mastrodonato. “To be back in the closer’s role, if (Farrell) says that, I want to be ready and available for that.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images