When the Boston Red Sox acquired reliever Carson Smith in an offseason trade with the Seattle Mariners that shipped 29-year-old left-handed starting pitcher Wade Miley to the Pacific Northwest, the expectation around New England was that Smith would assume duties in either a setup role or in seventh inning opportunities.
Now, Red Sox fans will be able to see the deal for the Texas State product come to fruition. The 26-year-old right-hander has been activated off of the 15-day disabled list for the first time this season, ready to begin action immediately as Boston begins a three-game set with the American League-leading Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
Smith looks to meet expectations
Smith entered spring training amid hefty expectations, with many considering him and setup man Koji Uehara to bridge the gap between Boston starters and closer Craig Kimbrel on most nights.
However, a strained flexor muscle in the forearm of his throwing arm midway through Grapefruit League play derailed Smith's early season exploits, forcing him to the DL for the first month of the season.
The Dallas native returned to in-game action last week in Double-A ball, as he made multiple spot rehabilitation outings for the Portland Sea Dogs. In two appearances, Smith retired all five batters that came to the plate, exemplifying his readiness for a return to big league action.
Although Uehara has impressed as the eighth-inning man in 12 showings thus far -- 12 strikeouts in 11.1 innings with a 1-1 record and a stellar 0.79 WHIP -- expect Smith to command the role once he progresses to full strength.
In 70 outings with the Mariners in 2015, the then-rookie tossed 92 strikeouts in 78.1 innings of work, garnering an ERA of 2.31, a WHIP of 1.01, 22 holds, and 13 saves in 18 opportunities.
Smith's call-up extends bullpen depth for Boston
To create roster space for Smith, the Red Sox transported infielder Marco Hernandez to Triple-A Pawtucket following their 8-7 victory over the New York Yankees on Sunday night.
Following the transaction, Boston now has 13 pitchers and just 12 position players on its roster, stocked with plenty of depth to supplant a rotation which has been underwhelming thus far, save for the performances of Rick Porcello and Steven Wright.