Tazawa nears return; Kelly tabbed for bullpen

Swihart, Rutledge progressing, but not close to rehab assignments

Tazawa nears return; Kelly tabbed for bullpen

BOSTON -- The Red Sox's recent trades have left both the bullpen and bench feeling fulfilled. But key players are still missing in action, having been bit by the injury bug. The good news? Some are doing better than others.

After suffering a right shoulder impingement and being placed on the 15-day disabled list last Thursday (retroactive to July 4), right-handed reliever Junichi Tazawa is expected to return to the 'pen as early as this weekend.

"He just completed his simulation game. Threw the ball very well," Red Sox manager John Farrell said before Tuesday's series opener vs. the Giants. "Threw all of his pitches. He'll get rechecked tomorrow. If everything goes according to plan, we would hope to activate him by Friday."

Tazawa was the effect of an overused, tired bullpen before his departure to the DL. The 30-year-old made 35 relief appearances for the Red Sox this season, going 1-1 with a 3.52 ERA while recording 37 strikeouts and allowing just eight walks.

Right-hander Joe Kelly has thrown dominantly in Triple-A Pawtucket since his demotion to the Minor Leagues on June 1. He allowed two hits while whiffing six through three innings in two relief appearances at Pawtucket. Farrell said Kelly will return to Boston as a reliever, but the timetable on that arrival is based on need in the bullpen.

"As far as him moving to the bullpen, that is going as we could've hoped," Farrell said. "When he's available to us here, that's more of a roster and bigger-picture situation to get him here.

"It's going to be based on need. Keep in mind, he's not on a Major League rehab. He's on Pawtucket's roster. The clock isn't ticking that a certain date can expire when he's got to come back to us."

Left fielder/catcher Blake Swihart and infielder Josh Rutledge are making progress with their respective injuries on the 60-day DL, but a rehab assignment is not on the horizon.

Swihart was placed on the DL with a left ankle sprain June 5 after colliding with the left-field wall while going for a fly ball. Rutledge followed suit days later with a left knee patellar tendinitis injury.

"With Blake, he continues to go through full baseball activities," Farrell said. "He and Rutledge are in a pretty similar spot as far as a full complement of work on the field."

Outfielder Chris Young is creeping closer to getting back on his feet after being placed on the 15-day DL with a right hamstring strain June 24. Farrell said he's being cautious with Young to avoid another setback along the way.

"Chris Young is still not running from a ground pace," Farrell said. "He's running on the ergo treadmill where he's keeping full weight off of that still. So he's still a little bit of ways from any kind of rehab."

Deesha Thosar is a reporter for MLB.com based in Boston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.