This week, after a month of evaluation, the Red Sox have announced that relief pitcher Carson Smith will miss the remainder of the season.
Red Sox announce Carson Smith underwent successful surgery on his right shoulder today and is officially out for all of 2018.
— Jason Mastrodonato (@JMastrodonato) June 13, 2018
On May 14th, just a month since his first major league appearance with the Red Sox since returning from Tommy John surgery, Carson Smith came out in relief for the eighth inning, hoping to keep a 5-4 deficit to Oakland from growing worse.
This was a frustrusting game to start, and Smith and the bullpen were expected to tow the line.
Smith’s first game back in the season opener March 29th was not pretty, but he had strung together a set of scoreless relief innings since then, and tonight was meant to be the next step in returning to his dominant 2015 form.
Up walks Oakland’s top slugger Khris Davis, who takes the first pitch for a strike. Davis then looks at another fastball that falls outside. It’s a 1-1 count and an aggressive hitter like Davis is ready to pounce on a mistake pitch.
Sure enough, Davis takes Smith’s one-one fastball deep into Fenway’s right field bleacher seats. Three pitches later, a 5-4 deficit is now 6-4, Athletics.
This was a frustrating moment for Smith, and we only know this because of what happened afterwards. Smith finishes the inning on three groundouts, and hustles back to the dugout, trying his best to keep calm.
As soon as he steps foot in the bullpen dugout, he winds up and thrusts his glove into the bullpen’s wall as if there was a runner on first base. For a pitcher like Smith whose fastball regularly reaches the high 90’s, it’s not impossible for something to go wrong in his delivery.
Smith tossed his glove so furiously that, as he later told reporters that night with tears in his eyes, that he could feel “his shoulder popping in and out”.
That’s not a routine baseball injury, even for pitchers. Smith later found out that he had an unusual injury known as shoulder impingement syndrome, otherwise known as “swimmer’s shoulder”. This is a condition where there is tendinitis in the rotator cuff of Smith’s shoulder.
Pitchers deal with torn rotator cuffs now and then, but never quite like this and not in the way Smith injured himself.
The team and public reaction to Smith injury was just as you’d expect. Dave Dombrowski spoke before the next day’s game, stating that he had no expectations on what this could mean for Smith’s status.
Boston media outlets ate this story up as it was yet another signature shitshow Red Sox story. The team was already rife with injuries this early in the season, and now they were given another one that didn’t result from playing.
As fate would have it, this was the two-year anniversary of his suffering of a torn UCL (Tommy John) soon after the Red Sox traded for him in 2016.
Now Carson Smith is back where he started, on the road to recovery once again. Boston’s bullpen is statistically among the top of the American League even without Smith, but the Red Sox should almost certainly add to it at the deadline in July. The Red Sox promoted Bobby Poyner from Pawtucket this week.
Photo: CBS Sports