Word coming out of the clubhouse this morning is that the Sox believe Daisuke is suffering from some general arm fatigue. The man himself denies any ailment and seemed a little peeved about being pulled after the first. But both sides are treading cautiously.
"He didn't communicate too much," Francona after last night's 6-5 extra-inning loss. "We talked to him the other day because he expressed a couple days ago some kind of general soreness or fatigue in the back of his shoulder from the WBC. We thought we talked it through pretty good in Anaheim and he came out tonight and didn't really have a whole lot. We'll re-evaluate him in the morning."
And although they won't make anything official until after that re-evaluation this morning, it looks like Daisuke is going to get some rest on the DL. Which brings us to the debate of the day: what happens to the pitching staff?
After last night's stellar performance---four innings, allowing only two hits in relief of Matsuzaka---Justin Masterson seems the prime candidate to take over the third spot in the rotation. But Masterson has thrived this season in relief, as has the whole Sox bullpen. The club might be wary at this point of throwing any wrenches into what has been, thus far, the Sox lone bright spot. And the fact is, Masterson's likely replacement, Bard or Bowdin, is going to be a very different kind of pitcher. As excited as we all might be to see Bard hit triple digits, for example, he's likely not going to be ready to give you four innings of that with the big club. That said, the Sox do have a couple arms that have been used sparingly so far---Saito and Okajim---that could presumably take up a little more of Masterson's load.
The other option the Sox seem to be mulling is simply plugging Buchholz into the third spot and leaving everything else as it is. As we all know, Clay had a fine spring and is eager to rejoin the club. But the team seems disinclined to have their hand forced on Buchholz. He's still highly valued, but considered somewhat fragile, both in terms of his own performance and his trade value. The club may fear rushing him back up before they're ready and facing another setback that effects his arm, his psyche, or the general league perception of those two assets (which, at the moment, is again on the rise).
For the time being, the smart money, assuming Daisuke is going to get his rest, is on Masterson joining the rotation and either Bard or Bowdin coming up. The Sox have an off-day to travel back to Boston before starting their series against Baltimore on Friday, so they'll have some time to think it over. But, if the Sox find themselves being swept out of Oakland today, the last thing the team may want is a long flight to think things over.