Here’s a look at what’s going on at Tropicana Field as Josh Beckett prepares to face Matt Garza, starting with a few injury updates:
*Tim Wakefield threw as long as 120 feet on flat ground today. He may be able to throw a side session tomorrow, which would be the “best-case scenario,” manager Terry Francona said. If Wakefield is able to throw a side, it would still be difficult to determine when he could start a game.
“I don’t know,” Francona said. “Maybe not that far off. This is a hard one for us. He could potentially probably be pitching for us pretty soon, and he could potentially probably not.”
Wakefield received an anti-inflammatory shot in his lower back Monday, and “I think it really helped,” Francona said.
*Jon Lester feels fine today after he left his start Tuesday night with a tweak in his right groin. The Red Sox were “very precautionary” when they pulled Lester, Francona said. “He’s fine. We didn’t want that to become an issue.” And it won’t be.
*Jed Lowrie got a day off yesterday with Triple A Pawtucket, and he will play today.
*Nothing new on Daisuke Matsuzaka. He is still scheduled to throw a rehab start for Triple A Pawtucket on Friday.
Mike Lowell, out of the lineup tonight, will play tomorrow. Lowell went 2 for 3 with a walk, two doubles, and a sacrifice fly last night. Since July 28, Lowell has a 1.025 OPS. He has said he understands he must take some days off to keep his surgically repaired hip feeling OK, but he would also like to play more.
“I’ve tried to spend a lot of time looking two, three, four days ahead, looking at travel, looking at pitching,” Francona said. “I know he wants to play every day. I completely respect that. But I think that it’s working out pretty well. He’s smart enough on a night he doesn’t play to get off that hip and stay fresh. He’s done a terrific job with it.”
As expected, Jonathan Papelbon and Billy Wagner will not be available tonight. Wagner will not pitch consecutive days, and Papelbon threw 28 high-intensity pitches last night in a six-out save. For the future, Francona said if Wagner warms up and does not go into that game, that also would likely mean Wagner would not pitch the next day.
Also, Francona will be careful tonight in how he calls on Daniel Bard to warm up in the bullpen. Last night, Bard threw 34 pitches while warming, but he did not enter the game. He is available, but if he warms and then does not enter, he will not warm up a second time.
On a night when Papelbon is not available and Wagner is, Francona did not rule out using Wagner as the closer. “We could,” Francona said. “It all depends how you get to a game.”
Francona shared his reaction on Curt Schilling’s potential senatorial campaign. “I don’t think he’d want me as his campaign manager,” Francona said, grinning widely. “I’ve been around Schilling probably more than anybody. He’s very dear to me. I guess whatever he wants, I want him to be happy, just like anybody. I’d love to be out in the crowd when he’s making a speech.”
One thought: When Schilling said his plate is full, did you think he meant he literally had a full plate of food in front of him?
And finally, the Rays lineup is in:
1. Jason Bartlett, SS
2. Carl Crawford, LF
3. Ben Zobrist, RF
4. Carlos Pena, 1B
5. Pat Burrell, DH
6. Evan Longoria, 3B
7. Gregg Zaun, C
8. Akinori Iwamura, 2B
9. B.J. Upton, CF