Joe Kelly exited Tuesday night's Red Sox game against the Tampa Bay Rays after recording just two outs with what the team would eventually diagnose as a "right shoulder impingement."
The definitions of "right shoulder impingement" that one can find online are fairly vague, but the long story short is that it seems to have something to do with tendons messing where they shouldn't. Not that that's a terribly important piece of information for any of us. What fans need to know amounts to this:
1) How long is he out for?
2) Who, if anyone, is replacing him.
And we have...no answers! Impingement, as with most injuries, comes with plenty of different levels of severity. It's sent plenty of players to the disabled list before, be it for weeks or months at a time. And while I am certainly not a doctor, I imagine there's also no shortage of minor cases that go ignored and unreported.
In the event the Red Sox do have to place Kelly on the disabled list, they certainly have options to replace him. Henry Owens pitched on Monday in Pawtucket, and while he's given up more walks than anyone should be completely comfortable with, everything else has been going swimmingly. The Red Sox could also turn to either Brian Johnson or Roenis Elias, though the latter has struggled to start the season.
Whoever ends up taking Kelly's spot if, indeed, that's required, they likely won't be up right away. The Red Sox, after all, are in the process of burning through their bullpen in a hurry, and they'll need fresh ready-to-go arms. Heath Hembree will likely be the first casualty, sent back as quickly as he was brought up, but if Kelly is too hurt to pitch, they'll take advantage of his hitting the disabled list by going to a long bullpen for the brief period before the next time his spot in the rotation comes up.