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Carson Smith leaves Red Sox game with forearm 'cramping'

It might be nothing. It might also be something. It's too early to know either way.

Boston Red Sox Photo Day Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Red Sox have had a mostly fortunate spring to this point as far as injuries are concerned, but now you might want to hold your breath for a bit. Carson Smith came in to pitch in relief in Monday's spring training outing against the Cardinals, but exited the game shortly after with what Buster Olney described as "cramping" in his forearm.

Smith faced just one batter before he was lifted, and then went to the dugout to speak with a trainer while looking at his forearm. "Cramping" doesn't sound as if it's automatically terrible -- he could have just been a bit stiff, and the word doesn't suggest an explosion of pain akin to what, say, Jarrod Parker experienced earlier this spring when he fractured his elbow on a pitch. So, hold your breath as stated, but try not to panic while you do it. It could be a precursor to something far worse, or it could be nothing, and the Sox are just being (rightfully) cautious with their arm.

Preliminary tests on Smith were not "alarming," according to the Boston Herald's Michael Silverman. However, Smith still has to undergo additional testing in Fort Myers to determine whether there is something awry in his arm. Should Smith need to miss time, be it a couple of weeks or something far more depressing, Matt Barnes is the likely beneficiary. Junichi Tazawa would probably get Smith's innings in this situation, but Barnes would be in a position to be used for more than just the occasional cleanup. Barnes could end up in the bullpen anyway if Steve Wright fills in for Eduardo Rodriguez in the rotation to begin the year, though, so even that isn't entirely clear.

With any luck, this is nothing at all, and Smith's forearm will feel fine shortly. The Red Sox bullpen could use Smith -- they acquired the right-hander from the Mariners along with Roenis Elias for starter Wade Miley this past offseason -- so avoiding any long-term injury is a necessity, especially this early in the year. He's a key part of the strategy the Red Sox aim to use, in which a superior bullpen helps further -- or cover for -- the performances of the starting pitching. The games won't feel quite as short, nor as in Boston's favor, if Smith is missing from those plans.