Sox notes: Francona shuffles starters

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Sox notes: Francona shuffles starters

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON - Because of the 13-inning game that took almost eight hours to complete over Wednesday night and Thursday morning, Red Sox manager Terry Francona is shuffling his starting rotation.

Tim Wakefield started Friday against the Twins on what would have been Daisuke Matsuzaka's regular day, Clay Buchholz starts Saturday, with Matsuzaka starting Sunday, and Josh Beckett pitching the finale of the four-game set. Jon Lester and John Lackey will start the two games in Toronto on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

The Sox have an off-day on May 12, their first since April 25. The rotation tweaking allows Francona to give his starters some rest before then.

"We have a chance to maybe give Lester an extra day or two and also align the rotation going forward. So it kind of kills all the birds with one stone," Francona said. "It was just a chance to give us a couple of days."

Lester's last start was May 3, giving him two extra days of rest.

"Not really that he needs a break. I think it's good for him," Francona said. "I think we do try to listen to him and talk to him and find out how we can help or when we can help because I think sometimes we think we're helping and we get in the way. We don't want to do that. When we talked to him about this I think he was on board with it so it seems like it makes sense."

Matsuzaka's regular day would have been Friday. But after pitching an inning of relief in the marathon game, and taking the loss, Francona decided to push him back. Matsuzaka left after facing one batter in the fifth inning of his last start, on April 29, said he expects to be 100 percent by Sunday.

"My elbow is getting better, gradually getting better," he said through a team interpreter. "So, as the game is scheduled, I will be ready for the game."

Matsuzaka was not surprised that he was pressed into duty on Thursday morning. He said he expected at some point in his career he would have to make a relief appearance. But it was a somewhat difficult experience for him.

"It's actually difficult to get ready as a relief pitcher, and I knew that they wouldn't have enough time, I wouldn't have enough time to get ready," he said. "So that was difficult. But all I did was just try to get focused on getting ready and throw just like regular outings.

"At the same time," he said through another team interpreter, "just because there was no extra room to think about it which is why he could at least a little bit focus to do things he needed to do to get ready for the game."

The Sox lost their fourth straight game, falling to 3-6 over the first
eight games of the 11-game homestand. In their three losses, they have been
outscored 34-7.

Boston pitchers balked in two runs in the game. The Sox had not balked twice in a game since Casey Fossum and Willie Banks did so on Oct. 2, 2001. It is the first time since 1949 they balked in two runs. It is the first time since 1992 any team has balked in two runs in a game.

Alfredo Aceves went 4 23 innings, his longest outing since going six innings on Sept. 20, 2008, against the Orioles while with the Yankees.

Jacoby Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to 15 games. He is batting .359, 23-for-64 in that span. It is the longest current streak in the American League and longest by a Sox batter this season.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Betts and Bradley Jr. combine for seven RBI, Red Sox roll to 9-2 win

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Betts and Bradley Jr. combine for seven RBI, Red Sox roll to 9-2 win

The Boston Red Sox put up six runs in the first inning and coasted to a 9-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.

Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. led the way for the Red Sox with four and three RBI respectfully. Both outfielders had two-run home runs in the Sox’ big first inning.

Knuckleballer Steven Wright gave up one earned run in four innings, his ERA for the spring is now 0.68.

The Red Sox are back in action again on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m when Rick Porcello makes his final spring training start against the Minnesota Twins.

Hernandez has chance at Red Sox opening day roster after Rutledge injury

Hernandez has chance at Red Sox opening day roster after Rutledge injury

Infielder Marco Hernandez may make the Red Sox roster after all.

Fellow infielder Josh Rutledge, the presumptive 25th man on the Red Sox, suffered a left hamstring strain on Tuesday against the Pirates, according to reporters in Florida, including Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald.

If Rutledge isn’t ready for opening day, Hernandez, a left-handed hitter, may have his crack. 

The question is whether the Sox would be comfortable without a right-handed bat to complement both Pablo Sandoval and Mitch Moreland on the corners. Rutledge was going to give the Sox that right-handed look they sought. (When Hanley Ramirez's shoulder will be healthy enough to play first base is unclear, but isn't expected to be too long.)

Neither Rutledge nor Hernandez has played first base in the majors or minors.

A big-league rookie last year, Hernandez has done decently against lefties at the upper levels of the minors, hitting .328 vs. them at Triple-A Pawtucket last season in 67 at-bats. He hit .315 in 54 at-bats at Pawtucket, with a .318 average against them that season in 88 at-bats for Double-A Portland.

Rutledge is a Rule 5 draft pick who has to remain on the major league 25-man roster the whole season or the Sox risk losing him. Placement on the disabled list doesn’t affect his status unless he’s on the disabled list for a very lengthy time.

An alternative option is Steve Selsky, who has first-base experience, but he's already been optioned.