Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara said today that he has no current plans for retirement, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports (links to Twitter). He added that his surgically-repaired wrist is doing well and hasn’t prevented him from beginning a throwing program.
Though he’s coming off of injury, entering the final year of his contract, and set to turn 41 the day before Opening Day, Uehara indicated that he still has an open-ended timeline ahead of him. “I will keep pitching unless I am terrible and no team wants me,” Uehara said with a laugh.
Ultimately, Uehara has every confidence in his ability to perform into his fifth decade. “Age is a number,” he said. “Bring me a present that day.” On the whole, the statistics certainly support that (brilliantly-stated) attitude from the Japanese star.
Outside a bit of a rough stretch last June, Uehara put up a strong overall campaign after signing a two-year, $18MM deal just before the start of 2014-15 free agency. He ended the year with a 2.23 ERA over 40 1/3 innings, with 10.5 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9. That K:BB ratio fell well below his typical rate — which has paced the rest of the league by a comical margin. But he still fell within the top twenty pen men in the game by that measure as well as by K%-BB%.
Boston won’t be asking quite as much from the standout veteran this year as it has in the past, as Craig Kimbrel is set to move into the closer’s role. But he’s still a key piece of the pen, and continued dominance from both of those pitchers could give the club one of the game’s best late-inning combos. Of course, this season will also set Uehara’s trajectory as he nears open-market eligibility for the offseason to come.