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May 6, 2013

Different but dominant: Tazawa, Uehara are unsung heroes

(Continued)

Ross said Tazawa has the potential to be a closer or starter.

“I think he still needs to be more consistent with his offspeed pitches for strikes,” Ross added.

When asked if he sees himself as an eventual starter or closer, Tazawa said he is just focused on his current role. That might be the boring answer. But it’s something the Red Sox front office and coaching staff love to hear because it shows he is focused on what is best for the team and not just himself.

UEHARA POWA

Uehara has thrown his fastball 55.4 percent of the time this year entering yesterday compared to his split-fingered fastball 37.5 percent of the time and his cutter 7.1 percent of the time, according to fangraphs.com.

“Basically, I’m a split-finger and fastball guy,” Uehara said. “I’m always trying to set them up with my fastball and then try to get them out with my split-finger.”

Tazawa added about Uehara’s ability to strike out so many hitters: “It’s hard for me to say but just from playing catch with him, I think just his timing, it’s difficult for the hitters to pick up timing-wise.”

Uehara pitched just 36.0 innings last year, 65.0 innings in 2011 and 44.0 innings in 2010.

Boston manager John Farrell will monitor Uehara’s innings going forward. Uehara never will pitch more than an inning a game.

That said, Uehara has pitched a ton so far. He is on pace for 78 appearances and 68.2 innings this year.

“The only thing I worry about is being ready for that outing and eventually we’ll see how much that ends up to,” Uehara said.

The Red Sox will keep tabs on Tazawa’s innings, too. The right-hander, who had Tommy John surgery, is on pace to throw in 84 games and pitch 73.1 innings this season.

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