In sort of a state of the pitching staff address, Sox pitching coach John Farrell shed a little more light on the status of Tim Wakefield who experienced more pain in his lower back after his start Wednesday against the White Sox.
“There was some soreness the day following, which I can’t say was totally uncharacteristic,” Farrel said. “And as time has elapsed since that day, since his last start, that stiffness or soreness has not eased up. so just as a precautionary measure we’ve taken a little bit more of a wait and see approach here.”
He said he didn’t have an idea when Wakefield would be available and said the decision to sit him down wasn’t made until speaking with Wakefield today.
“That decision wasn’t made until talking with him, like it is with every one of our pitchers,” Farrell said. “We check in with them daily every day they arrive at the ballpark just to get in some cases formal, in some cases informal update on how they’re feeling physically and that was the developments in today.
Wakefield’s status has a ripple effect on the rest of the rotation, starting with Jon Lester, who will now throw Tuesday instead of tomorrow.
“Well first of all I think this time of year, any pitcher is going to benefit i think from a couple of days of additional rest,” Farrell said. “With Wake’s next start somewhat in question, the weather this weekend, we just wanted to take a lot of variability out of it, so Jon can prepare best, as we would do with any other starting pitcher. not to try to leave them in
limbo or hang in the balance. by making this decision we’re able to have him focus and gear up to Tuesday at Tampa.
“They’ve been a very tough team. But i think we like Jon against most every team that we match up against. that’s not to take any opponent lighter than another. but i think most importantly for all of our planning, and most importantly Jon’s planning, that’s where the decision and the factors were involved, to gear up and plan accordingly.”
Farrell’s also been waiting for his ace Josh Beckett to rediscover his way after three rough outings, including last night when he walked five and allowed five earner runs.
“There’s been a lot of video breakdown, there’s been a lot of discussion in between starts, there’s been a lot of specific focus on creating more or more of a consistent downhill plane to his fastball,” Farrell said. “I thought last night there were more pitches thrown in the bottom of the strike zone. yet what was a little bit uncharacteristic of josh was get two quick outs and lose the strike zone for a couple hitters and then one curveball doesn’t finish as it did earlier in the at bat to hill ended up costing him three runs. there are times still where he’ll get a little bit
spread out and not create the downhill leverage that he has been so good at for nearly three years.”
Farrell said he was “very confident” that Beckett would find his form again.
“I think last night was something positive for him to build on,” Farrell said. “The one thing that he won’t back away from is the challenge, whether it’s preparation for this next start or accomplishing some of the goals that he has, the short term goals and that’s to regain that same type of consistency. this isn’t a health related issue. this isn’t a fatigue related issue. this is a little bit more just some timing in his delivery to allow that execution at the bottom
of the strike zone to be more consistent.”
Farrell also touched on the status of Daisuke Matsuzaka, saying he was impressed with the pitcher’s work in Fort Myers.
“He’s done a great job the time he was in Florida,” Farrell said. “I think it’s very easy to see to the naked eye that he’s reshaped himself, his core strength has improved. there are measurable
gains in the shoulder strength. i think most importantly, he dedicated himself to that time down there, knowing there was still some time left here, still the opportunity to get back and pitch at the major league level. with the next two starts we’ll get a better and more accurate read
on that because at this point any contributions he gives us we’ll certainly take and at some point we’ll need that.”