JUPITER, Fla. -- Carson Smith was worried about more than just rush-hour traffic during the 2 1/2-hour ride back to Fort Myers on Monday evening.
Smith felt tightness and cramping in his right forearm as he uncorked his fourth pitch of the seventh inning against the St. Louis Cardinals. When the sensation persisted on the ensuing pitch, the Boston Red Sox reliever walked off the mound, accompanied by a trainer, and headed back to the club's spring-training facility to be examined by team internist Peter Asnis.
"Yeah, I'm concerned. It's my career," said Smith, who had never before experienced those symptoms on the mound. "Everybody, when you feel something in your forearm, you're going to be concerned. Who knows how serious it is?"
The Red Sox acquired Smith and lefty Roenis Elias in a December trade that sent left-hander Wade Miley to the Seattle Mariners. Smith is projected to join Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa and closer Craig Kimbrel to form a late-innings combination that could rival even the New York Yankees' hard-throwing trio of Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman.
Smith, 26, throws from an unconventional three-quarter arm angle that some scouts have suggested could eventually lead to arm issues. But he has pitched from that arm slot since college at Texas State and said last week that he's unconcerned it will have a negative effect.
"For the most part, it feels natural. It's not forced," Smith said in a lengthy interview before a game against the Yankees last week. "If I tried to throw over-the-top, that would be forced. I'm just running with it. It feels good, healthy, knock on wood. But for the most part, I feel real comfortable with it."
Smith said initial tests in the training room didn't reveal anything specific. But the Red Sox will know more once he goes through a battery of tests back at JetBlue Park.
"I think there's always concern," manager John Farrell said. "At this point in time of the year, certainly not going to take any chance at all, so backed him out (of the game). We'll see what the evaluation produces."
Smith posted a 2.31 ERA and 13 saves in 70 appearances for the Mariners last year, his first full season in the big leagues.