This pitching decision goes in rookie’s favor
The Red Sox start a huge series with the Rays tonight and will give the ball to a 25-year-old rookie with 16 innings of major league experience.
“It’s pretty exciting,’’ righthander Kyle Weiland said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to help the team and that’s what I want.’’
Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and Tim Wakefield will follow Weiland in the rotation. The Rays will pitch Jeremy Hellickson, James Shields, Jeff Niemann, and David Price.
The decision to start Weiland means the Sox are skipping Andrew Miller, who has allowed 11 runs on 13 hits over 6 1/3 innings in his last two starts. The Sox preferred a righthander against Tampa Bay’s lineup. But there’s also more faith in Weiland at the moment.
“We just think he can rise to the occasion and give us a chance to win,’’ manager Terry Francona said.
Weiland faced the Rays at Tropicana Field Saturday, giving up three runs on six hits over four innings. Overall, he has allowed 12 runs on 21 hits and eight walks in four games.
“I was able to take a lot out of that last game against them,’’ Weiland said. “The scouting reports we get have a lot of detail.
“But until you face hitters yourself and figure out what you want to do, it’s not the same. I think I learned a lot about what I want to do and how to go about it.’’
The Sox will start John Lackey in one game of Monday’s doubleheader against Baltimore. The other starter is not determined.
Erik Bedard has started to play catch, but the lefthander has yet to throw in the bullpen since being shut down with a sore left knee and a strained left lat. The lat is the biggest issue he is dealing with.
According to Francona, Bedard would not need much work before starting another game.
Gonzalez leaves Adrian Gonzalez left yesterday’s 5-4 loss to the Blue Jays with a tight left calf muscle after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning. He said the injury occurred grounding to second in the third.
“I was rounding the bases, it got worse,’’ he said. “They didn’t want me to keep going out there and making it worse. Better to play it safe than sorry.’’
Francona is hopeful that Gonzalez will play tonight. He improved after leaving the game.
“I don’t think this is anything that’s going to linger,’’ Francona said.
Ortiz update David Ortiz missed his second straight game because of back spasms. Big Papi was moving slowly in the clubhouse and settled carefully into a chair in front of his locker to speak to a few reporters.
“I’d like to be ready to go right now,’’ he said. “I don’t know. It gets better, then it goes back and forth. I hope the next few days I’m ready to go.’’
Ortiz had some issues on the flight home from Tampa Sunday. He had himself ready to play by Tuesday before spasms set in just before the first inning. The pain started in his lower back and is now on the right side.
“When I left [Tuesday], I was feeling better,’’ he said. “But I couldn’t sleep. It tightened up.’’
Ortiz has been receiving hot and cold treatments and massages from team therapist Russell Nua.
“If you hear some screams coming out of the room back there, you know what it is,’’ Ortiz said. “It’s Russell beating me up. That’s the only way you can get rid of it.’’
Big bang theory Toronto’s Brett Lawrie tried to score from third base in the sixth inning on a grounder to second. Jason Varitek took the throw from Dustin Pedroia and held on after being knocked over. Lawrie was out.
The Toronto rookie later left the game with a bruised left knee. Varitek bruised his sore left wrist and knee.
“Those are two pretty good bodies hitting,’’ Francona said.
Varitek usually tries to absorb those hits with his legs and duck out of the way. But the 200-pound Lawrie was on top of him as the ball arrived.
“Not much I could do,’’ he said.
2012 schedule out Major League Baseball released its schedule for next season. The Sox open at Detroit April 5. The home opener is April 13 against the Rays. The Fenway Park centennial game will be April 20 against the Yankees. The Sox will host the Nationals, Marlins, and Braves in interleague games, with road series against the Phillies, Marlins, and Cubs. Red Sox 2012 schedule, C5.
Almost perfect Jonathan Papelbon retired the side in the ninth inning, striking out two. He has not allowed a run in 21 innings (dating to July 16), one shy of his career best set in 2006. Opponents have four hits in their last 67 at-bats against the righthander . . . Jacoby Ellsbury had 34 hits and 62 total bases against Toronto this season, the most ever by a Sox player in a season against the Jays . . . J.D. Drew is once again on the comeback trail. He has started playing catch and reported no issues with the fractured knuckle on the middle finger on his right hand. Drew hopes to start swinging a bat by the end of the week . . . Clay Buchholz will throw a bullpen session today or tomorrow, the next step in his return from a back injury . . . Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia each had four hits and scored four runs Tuesday night. It was the first time since 1919 the first two players in the Sox order accomplished that.
Early wake-up A day after his 200th career win, Tim Wakefield was one of the first players to arrive at the clubhouse in the morning. The Sox had a pregame ceremony to recognize his achievement . . . A day after he was designated for assignment, infielder Nate Spears cleared waivers and was outrighted to the Pawtucket roster . . . According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the reason the Marlins released former Red Sox outfielder Mike Cameron Monday was a heated incident with a flight attendant on a team charter.