BOSTON – The Red Sox lost closer Craig Kimbrel for three to six weeks with a medial meniscus tear in his left knee and he was placed him on the 15-day disabled list Saturday.
Kimbrel is scheduled to have knee surgery on Monday by the team’s head orthopedist Dr. Peter Asnis.
Kimbrel said the injury happened when he stepped to field a ground ball in batting practice before the game on Friday night.
“I didn’t think it was anything serious until I got in and evaluated it,” Kimbrel said
Said manager John Farrell: “He felt some discomfort when he came off the field. We’ll know more after the procedure on Monday and the subsequent rehab to follow.”
This injury is the first of its kind for Kimbrel, who has never been on the DL before.
Farrell said the Red Sox won't rush Kimbrel back.
“He’ll be back on the mound when he’s first ready to pitch to major league hitters,” Farrell said, “Regardless of who the pitcher is, [when] you have an injury to another part of the body you never want it to possibly show up another area, particularly the arm.”
Kimbrel has 17 saves in 19 chances with a 3.55 ERA and was named to the American League All-Star. He has struggled in non-save situations (6.28 ERA). He was acquired from the San Diego Padres in an offseason trade.
With Kimbel out, Farrel said Koji Uehara and newly acquired Brad Ziegler will serve as the closers. The Red Sox will be without Ziegler for the 4:05 p.m. game Saturday with the Tampa Bay Rays becaused Ziegler's flight to Boston was expected to land at 6 p.m.
Ziegler was obtained in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks late Friday night.
“We’ve got to get Brad here,” Farrell said. “We talked to him last night right around 1:30 a.m. when his game was finished in San Francisco. We briefly discussed not only his addition, but how things are going to shape up as our roles are changing -- for obvious reasons.”
Red Sox president of baseball operatioins Dave Dombrowski said before the game that the Ziegler trade and Kimbrel injury in no way were related -- but that it’s good the Red Sox got Ziegler when they did.
“It was apparent to me in talking to Craig after the game and getting the medical information that this is not something you want to take a chance on,” Dombrowski said. “[Kimbrel] said, ‘I might be able to go out and pitch with the way it is.’ We don’t want Craig Kimbrel to go out there and alter his delivery and be in a position where he hurts his knee more or his arm.”
After some thought, Kimbrel said he decided Saturday morning that it’d be best for him to get his knee taken care of.
“Personally I felt like I could go out and pitch and go through the pain,” Kimbrel said. “But looking at where we are in the season and what could come of going out and pitching through it. Might tamper my mechanics, might put stress on my arm or other places where we really don’t want to do that.”
Kimbrel is not the only Red Sox player bitten by the injury bug. Blake Swihart and Chris Young are on the DL, Hanley Ramirez and Travis Shaw are day to day and Brock Holt and Junichi Tazawa are expected to miss the rest of the weekend. With the All-Star break after Sunday, they shouldn’t need a trip to the DL.
The Red Sox called up right-handed reliever Noe Ramirez from Triple-A Pawtucket, activated utility man Michael Martinez, acquired Friday from the Cleveland Indians, and sent infielder Marco Hernandez back to Pawtucket.