Boston's schedule is about to get much easier. Their next 25 games -- from tonight until the All-Star break -- are against teams that are currently under .500. Sixteen of those 25 games are at home. There is no better time to fatten their two-game lead in the East.
Tim Wakefield, Brad Penny and Jon Lester will face the Marlins this week. The big question is who will start Friday's game against Atlanta -- John Smoltz or Daisuke Matsuzaka?
John Tomase, Herald:
Barring the trade of Penny, the most likely route for Smoltz into the rotation is through Matsuzaka, who could either be placed on the disabled list or shifted to the bullpen. If it's the latter, reliever Daniel Bard could be shipped back to Triple-A Pawtucket to make room for Smoltz, whose rehab window expires on Friday.Gerry Callahan of the Herald would like the Red Sox to bury Matsuzaka in the bullpen, letting him mop-up or pitch in long relief.
If Penny is not traded, that will be a real possibility (though Callahan's "dump his ass" mentality is knee-jerk and childish). Tony Massarotti ponders that scenario, as well as four others. The Red Sox will not implement a six-man rotation, all public indications (as recently as two days ago) are that Smoltz will start, so the only other option is sending Wakefield to the pen.
Yet another potential starter, Clay Buchholz, is frustrated at being in Pawtucket:
I want to be in the big leagues and I do want to go somewhere where I'll be able to play and pitch every fifth day. ... [I]t's sort of a logjam up there (in Boston). Whenever they come to a problem, they seem like they find a way to fix it without me being in the picture. It is what it is -- it's frustrating at times. Everybody knows that this game doesn't last forever, for a pitcher especially. I feel like I don't want to waste bullets here.Farm director Mike Hazen responded:
There should be an expectation of the player to feel like he's ready to go to the big leagues ... I think we're reading into it more that he has that confidence, that swagger, to seize the opportunity when it comes. Ultimately, he's just got to go out and continue to perform every five days. He's held up his end of the bargain. ... He's handled every situation that's been thrown at him like a pro. ... And his performance has been unbelievable. ... I believe wholeheartedly that Clay Buchholz wants to pitch for the Boston Red Sox. I believe wholeheartedly that both (Buchholz and Michael Bowden) want to be Boston Red Sox and that both of them will be, and that they'll help us win another World Series. It's just a matter of the timing of the situation.***
Jason Bay was asked if there was anything new regarding a contract extension:
There's really nothing to say about it. It's been a hot topic. I understand that. Until there's something to say, there's nothing to say. In spring training, we said we would revisit it at some point. Now we're two months into the season, so there's still a lot of time left. It's not really something that I'm hung up with. If it's in the cards, it'll get worked out. If not ...The herald's Michael Silverman has a Pedro update, saying Martinez
has been working out six days a week at Licey Stadium in downtown Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic for the last several weeks ... with scouts from major league teams stopping by to take looks. He is trying to stay on a five-day throwing program in anticipation of signing with a major league team, probably by the end of this month. His plan is to go on a 2- week minor league tuneup stint before being ready to pitch in the second half of the MLB season, right after the All-Star break. ... He wants to have a good enough showing where he can continue to pitch through at least 2011.***
Nick Cafardo took an unwarranted shot at Julio Lugo in his June 14 Globe story (my emphasis):
It was as if he experienced that Philadelphia freedom. As if he had run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art pumping his fists like Rocky. That's how invigorated Julio Lugo felt last night.I'd say Cafardo is better than that, but he is fairly worthless as a baseball writer.
"Of course, when you get hits, you feel good," said Lugo, slipping on a pair of $400 Gucci sneakers after the Red Sox' 11-6 win over the Phillies. "The only way you feel comfortable is by having success."