BALTIMORE — It’s June now and that’s the time everyone pointed to when it came to Carson Smith’s rehab from Tommy John surgery.
He’s getting close.
The Red Sox' righty reliever is planning to throw another bullpen with batters standing in (but not swinging) this weekend. Then, at Yankee Stadium, where the Sox play Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, he’s to throw live batting practice, which he may need to do only once ahead of a minor-league rehab assignment.
Sometime this week, then, Smith could be in a minor league game and on the brink of returning to the Red Sox.
“It’s gonna be based off how it goes,” Smith said. “If I feel good and I mean, and I feel healthy, most importantly, then I may reach a rehab stint after that [live BP in New York] or maybe have one more. I don’t see more than two, though.
“The target date was June and it is June now, and I still hope to come back at some point this month. I’m happy with that and I know there’s been bumps along the road, I mean, they’ve been pretty minimal. So, I can’t complain too much. I know guys that have been through this process and not fully healed until 18 months after. Takes a full season, and then an extra offseason. I’m feeling good.”
Soreness has been a part of the return from Tommy John. It’s not soreness that is necessary alarming, but that’s what’s perhaps slowed Smith just a tad in an imprecise process. Muscles are re-activating. Not just in the elbow, but in the shoulder too.
“Just training your body how to pitch again, it can be tough,” Smith said. “Your mechanics can be adjusted just from not doing it in a long time, or just stressing your shoulder in a way that it hasn’t been able to be stressed, because it’s your elbow. So, there’s other things. I know guys that have lat problems. So there’s many things, just being accustomed to the force being put on your body through your delivery. It can be tough on somebody.”
Smith said his mechanics, which are unorthodox, are the same as they were before.
“I’ve never been a real mechanical guy, it’s just natural how I throw,” Smith said. “I feel good. Nobody’s told me otherwise. So I just assume my mechanics are good. Nothing’s really changed. There are days if my shoulder’s barking or something, I may just make sure it’s consistent with what it usually is.”
He acknowledged he has at times felt his shoulder being cranky.
“Just like spring training, any of these guys coming off surgery, coming into spring training, you’re going to hit a road bump or a week span or so just to get your shoulder committed to the stresses needed to be in season’s shape,” Smith said. “I think I’m just going through that now.”
Wade Miley, the principal piece the Red Sox traded to the Mariners for Smith in the 2015-16 offseason, beat his old team on Thursday. Miley’s with the Orioles now.
“He’s with this team now,” Smith said. “There’s been many moves since then. Honestly, I don’t look too much into it.”
With Smith nearing, the Red Sox might get their payoff.