Good news: Carson Smith doesn't need Tommy John Surgery!
Bad news: While he's feeling better, an MRI revealed a muscle strain, and he's going to miss the start of the season.
Smith was pulled from Monday's game against the Cardinals after experiencing tightness in his right arm, and while he checked out in an initial examination, it seems the further exams didn't go as well as could be hoped.
Still, it could certainly have been worse. Technically John Farrell used the words "likely he begins the year on the DL," saying that with Smith being shut down for a bit, the late date would make it difficult to have him ready to play in a real game by the time Opening Day rolls around.
But, if it sounds like there's little chance for an April 4th appearance, that doesn't mean Smith will be out for a long haul. The Red Sox can make his DL stint retroactive a bit into spring, meaning he could be back in a hurry. Perhaps before the team really even needs him. While Eduardo Rodriguez' absence means some number of unrecoverable starts, for Smith this likely just means a shuffling in how the late-inning load is distributed between Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara, and Craig Kimbrel for the time being. The Sox would like to keep workloads as light as possible, but that can be made up for when Smith returns.
In the meantime, the Sox will certainly have no problem fitting all the pitchers they want on their 25-man roster, which has posed a potential problem for them as the time to make final cuts draws nearer. They're facing a minor 25-man roster crunch with players lacking options that may have pushed them to have Steven Wright starting in place of Eduardo Rodriguez even if they would have preferred another player just to preserve depth.
Of course, it may well be that they just want Wright starting anyways. And if that's the case, there's a pretty easy spring standout ready to take his place in the pen. Matt Barnes has thrown eight scoreless innings thus far with nine strikeouts to his name. And if spring statistics are largely meaningless, when choosing between a bunch of largely equal options, riding the hot hand is not the world's worst tiebreaker.