Rotation should align by Tuesday
The intrigue continues with the starting rotation, as manager Terry Francona said the Red Sox would get through Sunday’s game and then utilize Monday’s off-day to determine exactly how to get John Smoltz into the mix.
Smoltz said on Saturday one more abbreviated turn in the Minor Leagues was not out of the question. But Francona is clearly keeping all options open.
“We talked to Smoltzy last night,” Francona said. “We just want to get through the off-day and then we’ll … I think we can lay out the whole week. We just want to get through the off-day. Part of it is, we just don’t know how we’re going to get through today. We’ve got Wake again out in the bullpen as a reserve. We don’t want to use him, but we just want to protect ourselves. Until we get through it without using him, there’s no sense saying it and then undoing it.
“We’ll get through today and we’ll kind of map it out. We have mapped out various possibilities. There’s no sense in [doing it ahead of time], especially when it’s going to require a roster move. Those things come at their own pace.”
Wakefield, assuming the Red Sox don’t need him Sunday, will start Tuesday. Brad Penny is lined up for Wednesday, with Jon Lester likely on Thursday. That brings us to Friday, Daisuke Matsuzaka’s next scheduled turn.
Could it be time for Dice-K to take a little break to work out what ails him? Matsuzaka hasn’t gone as many as six innings in any of his seven starts. The overall numbers show a 7.50 ERA and an astounding 51 hits allowed in 31 innings by Matsuzaka. Opponents are hitting .372 against him.
“We’ve been pretty honest in our evaluations of him,” said Francona. “Like when people ask me, ‘What do you think of Dice-K?’ and I’d say ‘well he walked the bases loaded but got himself out of it. We’re not real comfortable with the first part of it but we’re happy with the second part.’”
“You try to get him to pound the zone and a couple of times that he really has, he’s left the ball in the middle,” Francona said. “We’re kind of trying to walk the line of being aggressive and getting him out of his game. There’s constant dialogue back and forth so we can get this as good as we can. It’s still a work in progress. It’s sometimes hard to figure. He can go out there for an inning and look unhittable and go out and it’s inconsistent, I guess is the word. He gave up some hard-hit balls yesterday in the third and fourth inning. Then he can turn around another inning and hits his spots and throws that changeup. I’ll tell you one thing, the cutter has power. It didn’t earlier in the year. He’s starting to get some power behind that cutter, which will really help.”
For those who wonder if Matsuzaka is having health problems, the righty emphatically stated Saturday night that is not the case.
“I feel fine,” Matsuzaka said. “I don’t have any problems with my shoulder or elbow and I think that makes it all the more irritating for me right now and I’d say that’s where my stress is coming from right now, even though I feel good.”