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Struggling Uehara requests time off

Kyodo

Boston Red Sox pitcher Koji Uehara said Friday that he has asked the team’s manager to remove him temporarily from the closer’s role.

“I just haven’t been a factor,” Uehara said. “I need time to sort things out mentally so I asked him to take me out for the time being.”

The 39-year-old Uehara, the MVP of the American League Championship Series last season for the World Series champions, had a 5.56 ERA in August.

He blew his third straight save opportunity Thursday, allowing two home runs in the bottom of the ninth inning during a 5-4 loss to the New York Yankees.

Uehara spoke with manager John Farrell on Friday, when it was decided he will rest for several days before being eased back into middle relief. Edward Mujica will handle ninth-inning duties until the Red Sox feel Uehara is ready to return as closer.

Farrell on Thursday suggested shutting down Uehara for the remainder of the year with Boston out of the playoff picture, but the pitcher himself -— who will be a free agent this winter — said he will finish out the season.

“I’m not going to throw in the towel when this team still has games to play,” Uehara said.

Farrell also made it clear Uehara is not hurt.

“There’s no physical ailments, he doesn’t complain of anything, he downplays the fatigue that has been discussed or written about or reported,” the skipper said.