The Red Sox finalized their pitching staff for the American League Division Series, placing Paul Byrd in the bullpen and making Manny Delcarmen, ineffective for the second half of the season and still suffering the effects of a car accident over the weekend, inactive for at least the first round.
“I just think all that’s happened, it’s probably not in his best interest,” manager Terry Francona said. “It would probably be rushing it a little bit.”
The Byrd-Delcarmen decision made the roster nearly fully formed, but the Sox will wait until tomorrow’s 10 a.m. deadline to decide the final two spots among three outfielders: Rocco Baldelli, Joey Gathright, and Brian Anderson. That decision will come down to the health of Baldelli, who is struggling with a strained left hip flexor.
The Red Sox want to wait as long they can for Baldelli to heal, because Francona believes Baldelli’s righthanded bat could be a key against Angels lefthanded closer Brian Fuentes.
“He has to have a legitimate chance to help us,” Francona said. “That’s basically what it is.”
The Sox may include Baldelli on the roster even if he can’t play immediately. The Angels plan to start two lefties – Scott Kazmir and Joe Saunders – in games three and four Sunday and Monday. Baldelli would be most valuable in those games, perhaps spelling lefty J.D. Drew in rightfield.
“He’s an important bat, especially in this series,” Francona said. “That’s certainly something to think about.”
Daisuke Matsuzaka, a likely candidate to start Game 4, will begin Game 1 in the bullpen to give the Sox another option for emergency long relief alongside Byrd.
The Sox may have selected Byrd even if Delcarmen was at full strength because Byrd provides an option in case of disaster. Game 2 starter Josh Beckett is healed but still coming off of a back issue that caused him to miss a start. Game 3 starter Clay Buchholz had been brilliant for much of the second half, but he exited early in both of his final two starts, lasting only three innings in the season finale.
“The one way you can get derailed is by if you can’t cover an accident,” Francona said. “You’d like to have a move for every situation. I think it’s more realistic to cover your pitching. If something happens bad, maybe you have a bad game. It doesn’t mean the series is over.”