So you’re Tim Wakefield. You’re 43, you had a back operation last fall and over the winter you lost your spot in the rotation.
Then comes spring training. Daisuke Matsuzaka shows up with a bad back and you barge through the open door, putting together a 3.66 ERA over 19.2 innings. Whatever doubts there were about your ability to still pitch effectively have vanished.
Sounds good, right?
Only there’s a still a question out there that Wakefield would like to get answered: What’s his job?
Terry Francona and John Farrell have not named their rotation for the regular season. It’s fairly evident that Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey will start the first three games. But after that will it be Wakefield or Clay Buchholz? Will the Sox use four starters for the first two weeks of the season or five?
Wakefield has seemingly earned a spot. But it’s uncertain whether his first game will be April 9 or not until April 18.
“I’m very curious, not knowing,” Wakefield said. “Normally I kind of know what’s going on. They have some decisions to make and we’ll see what happens.”
Francona probably knows the answers but he’s not saying.
“We haven’t laid out the starters. We just don’t know,” he said. “When we announce something, I want our guys to know and understand why and we just don’t know yet.”
As for other matters:
* Mike Lowell is not exactly boosting his trade value lately. He told Boston reporters on Wednesday that his right hip would never get back as much mobility as he once hoped. Then yesterday he told reporters who cover the Marlins that the National League might not be a good fit for him because he’ll need to DH from time to time.
Meanwhile, David Ortiz is hitting .214 after striking out twice and grounding into a double play against the Marlins. The double play seemed to take forever to turn and the throw still beat Ortiz by a few steps. While keeping Lowell around could be a bit awkward, he could well be the DH come June 1 if Ortiz is finished.
Let’s be honest, none of us have any idea to what degree Ortiz’s success was boosted by the use of performance enhancing drugs. Maybe not at all, maybe significantly. At 34 and under increased scrutiny, can he still be an effective DH? All we can say for sure is that he has taken a whole mess of bad swings in Florida so far.
* Based on my crude math skills, Daisuke Matsuzaka will be ready on or around April 23, barring any further setbacks. He has pitched four innings so far and needs another 18-20 or so to get ready. As to what will happen to the rotation at that point is anybody’s guess. But somebody is not going to be happy.
* Francona will find at-bats for Jeremy Hermida, bank on that it. He has shown a nice approach at the plate all spring, commanding the strike zone and hitting rockets. His spring OPS of 1.110 is a little eye-popping, isn’t it? Spring stats don’t matter but 1.110?
* Bill Hall fouled a ball off his left shin and left the game after two at-bats today. But he’s fine. Meanwhile, he seems to wear a different pair of Air Jordans to the park every day. You have to respect a man who knows his kicks.
* Our Nick Cafardo keeps hearing that the Red Sox are looking under every rock for a shortstop, if only to have some depth at the position. Reporters have literally not seen Jed Lowrie since March 11. His illness, which proved to be mono, has knocked him way out of the team’s plans. Jed Clampett has a better chance of getting in a game at this point.
* CC Sabathia and Roy Halladay, two cats you would want on your side if civilization hung in the balance, combined to give up nine runs on 14 hits in a Triple-A game today.
* New ESPN analyst Nomar Garciaparra said on the air today that “There’s no stat that measures heart.” At which point Theo Epstein sent his staff back to their dungeon to invent one.
* I kept hearing I wouldn’t like Josh Beckett. But I kind of do. I’ll say this for him: Other than Tim Wakefield, I don’t think any other pitcher on the staff takes as much time to hang with the position players as he does. The Sox have to take the emotions out of their decision whether to sign him to an extension. But make no mistake, Beckett is as much a leader of that team as anybody in that clubhouse.
Thanks as always for reading the blog.