Terry Francona confirmed that Billy Wagner, who will throw a bullpen session this afternoon, will not pitch tonight, but could be available tomorrow against Toronto.
“Going forward, what we’ll do is try to recognize that he’s had Tommy John surgery and he hasn’t had a lot of innings,” Francona said. “He’s actually way ahead of schedule. When I say freak of nature, I mean that as complimentary. He’s probably out there doing stuff that not a lot of people would be doing. We’ll try to have him help us win games. At the same time, we’re not going to get him up, get him down, get him back up. We’ll communicate and make sure we know how he feels physically and try to use him in situations where he can help us win without taxing him.”
Francona spoke highly of Wagner when the lefty was in the prime of his shutdown career.
“He threw harder than anybody in the league,” Francona said. “Add that to being a lefthander with a breaking ball that could take your skin off. That’s a lethal combination. We have to recognize that even if he’s coming back from surgery, his velocity is still tremendous. The task will be to give him enough work so he can get his touch and feel, feel good about himself on the mound, compete, and not overwork that.”
* Francona noted that location was one reason Brad Penny didn’t have the success the club hoped for. “When he’s good, he’s strong and he’s down, and it’s hard for people to elevate,” Francona said. “He’s not necessarily a strikeout pitcher, but he’s a power guy who throws the ball down and gets a lot of ground balls. He wasn’t as consistent as we wanted, so that’s why we made the move.”
* Jed Lowrie left last night’s game in Pawtucket because of discomfort in his wrist. Lowrie was examined by the team’s trainers and will see Dr. Thomas Gill. “The initial report was really positive,” Francona said. “I think it was more precautionary and this is something he can probably play with.”
* At least one pitcher will be promoted next Tuesday when rosters expand.
* The Sox posed for their team picture this afternoon.