After having a rough spring training with an ERA above 8 Tim Wakefield settled down and pitched 5 2/3 good innings last night against the Yankees and their projected opening day lineup. Wake pitched 5 2/3 innings allowing one run on 4 hits.
Catching Wakefield was George Kottaras who received great praise from his pitcher and manager Terry Francona. “He showed a little more assertiveness, calling some slow ones and mixing in different speeds on his call, not mine,” Wakefield said. “He just did a fabulous job.”
It puts my mind at ease to hear that Kottaras can handle Wake's knuckle ball; zero passed balls last night. After Kevin Cash left for the Bronx and Josh Bard was brought back many were having flashbacks to the 2007 season when Bard had an incredibly difficult time catching the knuckle ball.
Francona was happy with Wake and Kottaras' performances last night saying that he could see that, "They're starting to build a relationship which is good, because that’s not going to happen overnight.”
Coupled with Penny's start yesterday the Sox look to have all 5 of their projected starting pitchers on track for the start of the regular season. The beginning of the season is littered with days off so the Sox have the option to skip Penny in the rotation the first time through, or plug in someone like Masterson in for a spot start.
Dice K arrived in Fort Myers fresh of the WBC Championship and his 2nd WBC MVP. The plan is to have Matsuzaka throw one inning tomorrow and make a start against the Braves on Monday. There is a little apprehension surround Dick K after he throw 98 pitches against team USA on Sunday in only 4 2/3 innings.
Watching a Matsuzaka start tests the truest and most passionate of Red Sox fans, 100 pitches in 5 innings is enough to make anyone change the channel to Law and Order. The hope from the Red Sox was that Dice K would return more to the form everyone saw in the 2006 WBC, challenging hitters more with his fastball. We'll have to see what changes the Sox attempt to make with Dice K to get him pitching deeper into games. Last year the Dice man averaged 5 1/3 innings/start.
John Smoltz, who is on track to make his debut June 1st, is pitching off the mound for the first time this spring. Francona said Smoltz would throw 30 pitches, although Smoltz would probably want to throw 100. I can't wait for Smoltz to make his debut with the Sox, the guy is a warrior.
Baring any health problems the Sox starting rotation projects out as: Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, and Brad Penny.