Koji Uehara: I Battled ‘Physical’ Issue Late In Red Sox’s 2014 Season


Feb 16, 2015

Koji Uehara finally confirmed the suspicions.

While it looked late last season like something was bothering Uehara physically, the Boston Red Sox closer never admitted such. Until Monday.

“It was more physical,” Uehara told reporters through a translator at the team’s spring training complex in Fort Myers. “I didn’t talk about it at that time. I think I’m over it.”

Uehara surrendered four home runs while posting a 19.29 ERA in six appearances from Aug. 16 to Sept. 4. He allowed 10 earned runs on 14 hits in 4 2/3 innings during that stretch, elevating his season ERA from 1.27 to 2.64. By comparison, Uehara allowed nine earned runs in 74 1/3 regular-season innings in 2013.

The Red Sox chose not to shut down Uehara for the season despite the poor results. Instead, he returned to action after an eight-day layoff and finished strong with three scoreless outings, mitigating any concerns the Red Sox might have had about re-signing the typically reliable right-hander.

Uehara was unwilling to go into specifics regarding his 2014 physical issue while speaking to reporters Monday, other than to say it wasn’t “fatigue” related.

“I probably needed the rest and felt good after,” Uehara told reporters. “But I’m not going to look back and wonder what I should have done. I’m just going to look toward the future.”

Uehara signed a two-year, $18 million contract with the Red Sox earlier this offseason. Boston clearly has a lot of faith in the 39-year-old hurler, who said Monday he had “no doubt at all” about re-signing with the Sox in free agency.

“It was the only team that I talked to,” Uehara told reporters. “I was pretty sure that if I was going to sign, it was going to be the Red Sox. Since the Red Sox had an offer for multiple years, that really erased any doubts about going into the offseason as a free agent.”

Uehara will hold down the ninth inning for Boston again in 2015. The Red Sox surely hope it goes more smoothly than 2014 from a physical standpoint, as his importance to the team’s bullpen can’t be overstated.

Thumbnail photo via Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports Images

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