Friday, March 27, 2009

Masterson Great Against Reds AAA Team...Daisuke Matsuzaka Back In Town

Hello, hello on this Friday morning. Boston Red Sox pitcher Justin Masterson's role is not in focus...yet. He's been stretched out slowly by Tito Francona and pitching coach John Farrell, just to be on the safe side. What's the safe side? His place is at the back end of the bullpen, where he was SO efffective in 2008. But it all depends on the health of both Brad Penny and John Smoltz. Penny had a great first round on the mound and will pitch every three days. With no setbacks, he will be ready by the the middle of April. So someone else has to take his future spot in the Sox rotation for the first half month of the season. As for John Smoltz, he first threw off the mound on Wednesday of this week. If things go according to plan and his shoulder is sound, we'll see him sometime in the first week of June. So where does that leave us right now in late March? It leaves us with Beckett, Lester, Daisuke and Wakefield, that's for sure. Of the other three candidates being readied, Masterson, who's ready NOW to step into the rotation, Penny and Smoltz, two of the three will enter and Wakefield might not remain. I really think that Wakefield will be pitching every fifth day until early June. There ain't any "ifs" about it. Many questions will be answered once the status of Penny is known. Sox pitching coach John Farrell said this about that...

“It’s not only about Penny’s health, but if he’ll be ready for that start on the 12th of April. Or do we take a more conservative approach that would create one or two starts for a fifth starter,” pitching coach John Farrell said. “Masterson could certainly be in that mix, as well. That’s part of the information gathering at this point for us. His (Masterson's) spring has gone as we had hoped, particularly bringing him in in the hopes of providing a starting option for us, which he clearly is. He’s certainly doing everything we’ve asked of him in camp.”

And how does young Justin Masterson feel about juggling two different pitching situations, starter and reliever. Yesterday, he threw four scoreless innings, allowing four hits with six strikeouts. He tossed 81 pitches. Here's what he had to say...

“It’s the neatest thing,” Masterson said. “We’re standing here talking about whether or not I’m going to be starting or relieving. Never has there been a mention of, ‘Are you going to be in the big leagues or Triple A?’ It’s really cool there’s a spot there for me. It gives me some confidence to go out there and get better as a pitcher.”

He was asked what the difference was for him between pitching in the bullpen and pitching as a starter...

“The only difference is that adrenaline rush of throwing an inning or even two innings and feeling like, ‘That’s it? That’s all?’ ” he said. “The body’s revved up for even more. I experienced it a little bit last year in the week or two after the transition was made. You just have to get used to throwing full bore, getting a day or two off, and then throwing full bore again.”

This is a "can't lose situation for the Boston Red Sox. Sure, the Yankees have a MONSTER starting five, but we're right with them with a bullpen that might be the best in all of major league baseball. Click on the title of this post for more Sox news from SI dot com and as always, BE WELL. L'chaim, cheers, aloha, shalom, nastrovia. See ya. Thanks for yesterday's comments...keep 'em coming. I'll respond to every one. Have a great weekend.

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