Red Sox Notes: Week of March 28
It has been a whirlwind week as Spring Training comes to a close. We saw final roster cuts, the addition of another Cuban defector and a surprising announcement about the Red Sox starting rotation. The biggest story this week surrounded Junichi Tazawa’s discovery of elbow issues. Francona and Theo certainly had a lot to talk about this past week so let’s get to it. Enjoy the final Spring Training edition of Red Sox Notes and be sure to check out my Opening Day LIVE CHAT Sunday at 7:30pm EST!
Dusty Brown, Kevin Frandsen, Joe Nelson, Alan Embree
The Red Sox made some final roster moves including sending catcher Dusty Brown and newly acquired infielder Kevin Frandsen to Pawtucket to begin the season. Lefties Joe Nelson and Alan Embree just missed the cut for the final roster and Joe Nelson has accepted the option to begin the season in the minors, hoping that he will have an opportunity later in the season to come back up. Alan Embree has yet to make up his mind, but the Red Sox management has asked him to enter a rehab program, allowing him to prove himself and regain his full health in an effort to make the majors this season.
Both Nelson and Embree will have a solid chance at playing in the majors this season, given potential injuries and both of their age and experience. Also, if there is one thing the Red Sox management loves, it’s a stockpile of left-handed arms waiting in the wings. If I had to guess, I would say Nelson would get the call before Embree (all things being equal), because he had greater success this Spring. Embree’s whopping 38.57 era this Spring is almost unfathomable.
The Red Sox signed free agent catcher Brian Peterson on Wednesday. Peterson is a 31-year old local from Hyannis, MA and has spent his entire career in the minors as a backup catcher. He will serve in the same role with the Red Sox, probably spending time in AA. There is no expectation Peterson will ever improve to the point of being a major league player, but he adds depth in the system.
The Red Sox signed another Cuban defector this week. Outfielder Jorge Padron is a 22-year old lefty contact hitter who came over to the United States in 2009. Earlier this Spring, the Red Sox signed shortstop Jose Iglesias from Cuba, and he has done nothing but impress the fans and management since. The Cuban pipeline is full of young talent and the Red Sox are continuing to scout heavily there. For more information on Padron, check out my post from Wednesday.
The marquee headline this week was about pitcher Junichi Tazawa’s elbow troubles. Tazawa felt some stiffness in his elbow this Spring (as well as last season), leading to tests and an examination by the team doctor. The results were not what anyone had hoped and will force Tazawa to have Tommy John surgery on Tuesday and miss the remainder of the season and potentially the beginning of the 2011 season as well.
This is a tough break for the Japanese starter who had hoped to get some playing time in the majors this season and prove his poor numbers with the big club last season were not indicative of his ability. For more information, check out my post from April 1st on Tazawa.
Starting Rotation Announced
After much speculation, Terry Francona let it slip last weekend that Josh Beckett will be the opening day starter for the Sox. There were many people who believed Jon Lester may have gotten the nod, but it was the experienced ace that ultimately will toe the rubber on Sunday night. Later in the week, the entire starting rotation was announced and revealed a surprise at the 4th and 5th rotation spot. Tim Wakefield is slotted in the 4th spot and Clay Buchholz in the 5th for the opening week of the season.
With 3 days off during the 1st 8 games of the season, the Red Sox are able slide Tim Wakefield into the 4th spot to allow the staff normal rest and not skip any starts. Once the first week of games is over, the rotation will likely see Wakefield slide into a spot starter role and get his opportunities only when the schedule allows. When Dice-K comes back off the DL, the rotation could get even more confusing, leading me to believe the Sox will be extremely patient and slow integrating the $100 million man back into the thick of things.