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Red Sox activate Koji Uehara, option Tommy Layne to minors

The Red Sox have their closer back just in time to open a series against the Nationals.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox began their season without their closer of the last two seasons, but after a stint on the disabled list, Koji Uehara is back. The Red Sox activated Uehara from the 15-day disabled list prior to their series against the visiting Washington Nationals, and optioned lefty Tommy Layne to Triple-A Pawtucket to make room.

Uehara missed the start of 2015 thanks to a strained left hamstring, and the Sox wanted to be cautious with him after a late-spring setback in his recovery. He made a rehab appearance on Saturday for Low-A Greenville, facing six hitters without incident. That was all the Red Sox needed to see, and now Edward Mujica can hand back the closer role he briefly held: manager John Farrell stated on Sunday that Uehara would immediately resume his role upon returning.

The struggles of Uehara in 2014 might still be fresh in the minds of some, but remember that his "struggles" resulted in a 2.52 ERA and 10 times as many strikeouts as walks over 64 innings. He appeared a little gassed at times, and was delicately handled in September, but so long as the Red Sox don't overdo it with his appearances, he should be the same old Koji at 40 that he was in his late-30s.

Layne threw three scoreless outings to begin the season, but allowed three runs against the Yankees late on Sunday, causing his early season ERA to balloon to 5.79. This probably isn't the reason why he was the one sent down to open up Uehara's spot, however: Layne was only in the majors in the first place because Uehara began the season on the DL.

Like Alex Wilson before him, the 30-year-old Layne is mostly going to be an up-and-down reliever for Boston, shuttled to the Sox when there is an opening and they prefer not to disturb the developemental routines of pitchers like Brandon Workman or Matt Barnes, and sent back down I-95 when those openings close once more.