Joe Kelly’s Progress Causes Red Sox To Change Course On Rotation Move

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PHILADELPHIA — The Boston Red Sox changed their mind.

Red Sox manager John Farrell announced before Thursday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park that the club is leaning toward starting Joe Kelly in Saturday’s middle game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

The announcement is a contrast from Wednesday, when Farrell said Steven Wright would start over Kelly, who remains on the 15-day disabled list after dealing with biceps soreness in spring training. The Red Sox were encouraged enough by Kelly’s bullpen session Wednesday to reverse course.

“I think everyone involved, both (Wright) and Joe, knew it was a possibility,” Farrell said. “We had outlined that it was going to be Steven prior to the bullpen that Joe threw yesterday, which was encouraging. And again, with another couple of days, we feel like Joe will be ready to start for us.”

Kelly threw 78 pitches over five innings in an intrasquad game Monday in Fort Myers, Fla., before joining the Red Sox in Philadelphia before Wednesday’s contest. Farrell previously said the ideal scenario called for Kelly to ramp up to over 90 pitches before making his regular-season debut with Boston, but the Red Sox are confident the 26-year-old will be ready to go Saturday in the Bronx.

“As strong as he was, or as well as he was throwing, we’re still trying to build him,” Farrell said. “(Wednesday’s bullpen) was another positive step for him. We feel like, let’s take that next step here.”

While Farrell didn’t specify an exact pitch count for Kelly, he suggested the Red Sox could look to reproduce his workload from Monday, or perhaps increase it a bit.

“It’s all going to depend upon how long a given inning is or the stress to the pitches thrown,” Farrell said.

The Red Sox will announce a roster move sometime before Saturday’s game to facilitate Kelly’s activation from the DL, according to Farrell.

Thumbnail photo via Kathy Willens/USA TODAY Sports Images

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