Is Kelly's Red Sox' future as a reliever?

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UPDATE, 7:45 P.M.: The Joe-Kelly-as-a-reliever-plan may have to wait a while. He was struck on the right arm by a line drive in the first inning of his start at Pawtucket on Wednesday night and left the game. 

BOSTON - Could a move to the bullpen be in Joe Kelly's future?


Kelly has already made two starts for the Pawtucket Red Sox after being optioned to Triple A last month, with another start lined up for Wednesday night.

In the first two starts, Kelly was 0-1 with a 2.77 ERA, allowing nine hits in 13 innings with 11 strikeouts and five walks.

Some of the same issues that plagued Kelly as a starter in the big leagues -- inefficient with his pitch count and command of the strike zone -- haven't really been corrected at Pawtucket.

John Farrell described the first two starts at Triple A as "good starts, but I wouldn't say dominant.''

"The secondary stuff has been sharp,'' said Farrell. "I know last time out, it was 112 pitches in six innings of work. There were a lot of foul balls mixed in there, and four walks. The velocity's been consistent.

"He went down with two primary objectives -- that was to hone the consistent fastball location and have the ability to lead with a breaking ball and then finish off.''

For the first time, however, the Red Sox have had some internal discussions about potentially bringing back Kelly to the big leagues as a bullpen piece, where, presumably, his stuff would play up in the shorter stints and his inefficiency wouldn't be as much of an issue.

"I think at some point, he's an option, to come back in that role,'' said Farrell. "To say that there's a prescribed number of starts where we have to see things work out, or we make a decision from there...We haven't said that there's 'X' number of starts before we would alter his path.

"But he's got bullpen experience at the major league level. There have been times when the workload level, we've had to monitor very closely with Junichi [Tazawa], Alexi [Ogando] and Koji [Uehara], so, that conversation, some of that has been had.''

 

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