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Ticket situation for suspended game

04.17.10 at 4:30 am ET
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The Red Sox issued the following explanation about how tickets will be handled for the conclusion of Friday’s suspended 1-1 contest between the Sox and Rays, which was halted entering the bottom of the ninth inning due to heavy rain:

“The continuation of [Friday's] game is governed by the rules of Major League Baseball. In accordance with those rules, the first game of the series must be played to completion before the second game may commence. Thus, tonight’s game will be continued tomorrow, Saturday, April 17, at 7:10 p.m., due to the likelihood of adverse weather earlier in the day. The Saturday game already scheduled will start approximately 30-45 minutes after the completion of the suspended Friday night game.

“Fans holding tickets for tomorrow’s regularly scheduled Red Sox-Rays game on Saturday, April 17, may use them for both the conclusion of tonight’s game, which will begin at 7:10 p.m., as well as for the game originally scheduled to be played. Tickets for tonight’s suspended game, April 16, will not be valid for use tomorrow for either one. Gates will open at 5:10 p.m. [Saturday].”

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Bogar: Few regrets in sending Youkilis

04.17.10 at 2:16 am ET
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Kevin Youklis was gunned down at the plate in the sixth inning with the game tied and nobody out, leading to third base coach Tim Bogar having to answer questions following the suspension of the game. (AP)

Setting the scene …

Nobody out. Sixth inning. Game between the Red Sox and Rays tied at  1-1. Kevin Youkilis at first base. David Ortiz at the plate. Rain getting appreciably heavier with each inning.

Ortiz rifles a ball down the right-field line, towards the wall. Tampa Bay right fielder Ben Zobrist scoops it up, throws to cut-off man Reid Brignac, who tosses a strike (slightly up the line) to catcher Dioner Navarro.

Youkilis is waved home by Red Sox third base coach Tim Bogar. The end result has Youkilis being tagged out by Navarro, allowing for the first out of the inning and plenty of questions for Bogar after the game. Here is what the first-year third base coach had to say after the game was suspended in the ninth inning, still tied at 1-1 (click here for the ‘Closing Time’ recap):

(What did you see?) “The ball hit down the line, wet grass, mud, right against the wall. I felt like they had to make two perfect throws to throw him out and they didn’t make two perfect throws but it was pretty close though. I obviously understand with no outs getting thrown out at the plate, but I thought there was a chance to take the lead.”

(Thoughts about holding the runner with nobody out) “I think it’s obvious in normal baseball that’s what you do. I just felt like it was an opportunity to score a run right there, especially with the conditions of the field. It was a play they had to make perfectly, and he was thrown out. That’s the way it goes.”

(Dealing with the uniqueness of Fenway’s dimensions) “For me personally that’s just a ball down the right field line. I know he was up against the wall. I thought he had an opportunity to score. You have to give them some credit too, they made a good replay. Navarro made a nice tag on a ball that was a little bit up the line. It wasn’t like he was out by 30 feet. It was pretty close.”

(Would you have done it again?) “I think so. The same scenario, with the weather the way it was, and what was coming. Obviously you can always go with the percentages of nobody out, hold him, and then you got your chances. At that point I just thought it was a good opportunity for us to pick up a run right there with nobody out. In hindsight, yeah, I should have held him. But if he scores we’re not talking right now.”

(Having to answer these questions) “It happens. I guarantee you before the year is over I’m going to be talking to you again. That’s baseball. That’s not going to change the way I approach the game. Obviously it didn’t work out for us so I’m held accountable for that, and I’m fine with that.”

(Was Youkilis slowing down coming around third?) “If you’re trying to say Youk was laboring, I didn’t think he was.”

(The dynamic of being a third base coach) “It’s a tough job. It’s not an easy job and DeMarlo [Hale] did it good, if not better, than anybody ever has. It’s kind of nice that he’s on the staff that I can go and talk to him. The best thing you can do as a third base coach is not see you guys, and I don’t think he talked you a whole lot.”

(Did you know there were going to be night’s like this one) “I think if there’s not a night like this there’s something wrong. I don’t think you’re going to be 100 percent every time. If someone is perfect every night they will have a job forever. It’s one of those things where you make a big decision, things don’t go your way and you’re accountable for that decision. That’s why I’m standing here, I’m accountable for getting him thrown out.

(Why you sent him) “I thought he was going to score, it just didn’t turn out our way. Statistically, with nobody out, sometimes you want to hold him. I just thought it was a good opportunity to score a run right there.”

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(Not Quite) Closing Time: Red Sox 1, Rays 1

04.16.10 at 11:24 pm ET
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Kevin Youkilis was gunned down at the plate after a questionable decision by Red Sox third base coach Tim Bogar. (AP)

On a frigid night at Fenway Park, the Red Sox and Rays engaged in a compelling pitcher’s duel. Yet while Rays starter Wade Davis (5IP, 2H, 1R) and Sox counterpart Josh Beckett (7IP, 4H, 1R, 0ER) were both dominant, neither factored in the decision on a night when offense was in short supply.

Nor, for that matter, did anyone else. With the game tied, 1-1, entering the bottom of the ninth inning, home plate ump and crew chief Brian Gorman called out the tarps with the rains intensifying. Amidst miserable, rainy and cold conditions, the game was not resumed. Instead, the two sides will resume the contest on Saturday evening at 7:10 p.m., prior to the start of the scheduled 7:10 p.m. game between the two teams.

The Sox are scheduled to send David Ortiz, Adrian Beltre and Jeremy Hermida to the plate for the inning. Jonathan Papelbon is in the game for the Sox, while Lance Cormier was announced as having entered the game in the bottom of the ninth for the Rays, just before the tarps were spread on the field.

Ortiz is 1-for-7 in his career against Cormier, while Beltre is 1-for-4 and Hermida is 1-for-5. The Sox will have bench options available in Mike Lowell (3-for-10, 2 double), Victor Martinez (3-for-9) and potentially Mike Cameron (1-for-1) against the Rays right-hander, assuming that he is indeed asked to pitch when the game resumes.

Key Play

The game likely could have ended on Friday night but for the first visible lapse in judgment by new Red Sox third base coach Tim Bogar.

With Kevin Youkilis on first and no outs in the bottom of the sixth, and the game tied, 1-1, David Ortiz rifled a double down the right-field line. But the ball was handled cleanly by Rays right-fielder Ben Zobrist, who cleanly fired the ball back to second baseman Reid Brignac (possessor of a strong arm). Yet Bogar sent Youkilis, who was gunned down handily at the plate on a 9-4-2 relay.

The decision would have been perfectly understandable with two outs, but with none, it was a poor risk. Instead of having runners on second and third with no outs, the Sox had a runner on second with one down.

The threat quickly fizzled, as reliever Grant Balfour settled to get a ground out and strikeout to end the inning. In fact, three Rays relievers (Balfour, Randy Choate and Dan Wheeler) combined to retire the next eight Sox hitters prior to the delay.

What Went Right for the Red Sox

Josh Beckett was exceptional in his third start of 2010. The right-hander featured a tremendous curveball and an array of fastballs (four-seam, two-seam, cutters) that left the Rays completely unbalanced. Beckett threw seven innings, allowing just one unearned run on four hits and one walk while striking out a season-high eight.

Beckett was on the familiar end of a hard-luck no-decision. Since the start of the 2001 season, there have been 15 occasions on which a Sox starter has gone at least seven innings without allowing an earned run while taking a no-decision. Beckett has three of those, tied with Derek Lowe for the most by a Red Sox in that span.

–With the Sox trailing, 1-0, in the bottom of the fifth, Jason Varitek golfed an 80 mph curveball for a leadoff homer to left against Rays starter Wade Davis. Varitek has now homered three times in his two games this year, marking the first time he’s gone deep in back-to-back games since he homered in three straight contests from Aug. 18-22, 2008.

–Not only did Mike Cameron not require an appendectomy, but he was able to fly back with the Red Sox to Boston on the team charter on Thursday after being diagnosed with a kidney stone. The stone was removed — in terribly painful fashion — on Friday morning, and the Sox were hopeful that their center fielder might be able to return to the lineup as soon as Saturday.

What Went Wrong for the Red Sox

–It started to get ugly for David Ortiz. The Red Sox slugger got booed after striking out in both his first and second plate appearances of the night. In the first, he had a 3-2 fastball down the middle that he fouled back before whiffing on a 95 mph fastball up and out of the zone. In the second, he fouled back a 95 mph fastball down the middle on a 3-1 count, then struck out on a 96 mph fastball on the outside corner.

He did, however, deliver a double down the right-field line against reliever Grant Balfour in the sixth. He now has doubles in each of his last three games.

That gave him greater offensive production than J.D. Drew, whose offensive woes deepened. Batting in the second spot in the order, he was 0-for-3 with a strikeout and walk. Dating to last Saturday, he is 0-for-14 with eight strikeouts (and three walks).

–In fairness to Ortiz and Drew, no one on the Red Sox was hitting. The Sox mustered just three hits, after all.

–The Red Sox defense struggled for the second straight game. Marco Scutaro kicked a two-out Carl Crawford grounder for his second error of the season. After Crawford stole second, Adrian Beltre lost a high chopper off the bat of Zobrist in the lights, kneeing the ball into center field for what was ruled a run-scoring single. On a night when the Sox were struggling for offense, a single unearned run changed the complexion of the game.

Jeremy Hermida likewise whiffed on a Reid Brignac pop-up to left that may have been wind-aided. It was ruled a double.

The net effect of those three plays was not merely to give the Rays an unearned run, but also to force Beckett to throw more pitches than would have been necessary. While Brignac ended up being doubled off of second on a liner, Beckett threw 13 pitches after Scutaro’s two-out misplay, likely resulting in one less inning of work for him.

–The Rays, as expected, ran wild on the Sox. Tampa Bay stole four bases in as many attempts, giving Sox opponents 16 steals in 17 tries this year. Had Crawford not stolen second after Scutaro’s two-out error in the third, he wouldn’t have been in position to score of Beltre’s muff on the next play.

The Rays have now been successful on 35 of their last 39 stolen base attempts against Boston, dating to the start of last year. The game reinforced the notion that the Sox’ defense behind the plate is a growing according to NESN analyst and Hall of Famer Peter Gammons during his Friday visit to the Big Show (transcript), is a growing concern.

“This is an issue,” said Gammons. “I don’t know if, unless [bullpen and catching instructor] Gary Tuck comes up with some miracle way of getting Victor more consistent, I don’t know if they can do this and have so many stolen bases against them. Which may require going out and finding another catcher or bringing up [Mark] Wagner or whatever they want to do.”

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Gammons on Big Show: Sox might need changes behind the plate

04.16.10 at 7:27 pm ET
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Hall of Famer and NESN analyst Peter Gammons made his weekly appearance on the Big Show on Friday to discuss the state of the Red Sox. With the lineup coming out for tonight’s game against Tampa Bay featuring Jason Varitek at catcher, Gammons said that he thinks the Sox captain will regularly be behind the plate when Josh Beckett is on the mound.

“Josh is very comfortable with him and Victor Martinez is going to catch Wakefield,” Gammons said. “So I think it works. I really do believe, and I agree with Jason, that this is a role he can do for awhile. He is more relaxed and you are getting more production from him.”

Staying on the topic of the catching situation, Gammons also talked about the concerns with Victor Martinez’ play in the field. Gammons said that his problems behind the plate in Cleveland led to the Indians stop playing him at catcher, and that his difficulties controlling the running game (opponents are now 12-for-13 on attempted steals against the Sox) might have a negative impact on the pitching staff.

“I think it impacts the pitching staff. You have guys thinking about, ‘Uh oh, I better be quicker about getting to the plate.’ … Unless [Red Sox bullpen coach] Gary Tuck comes up with some miracle, I don’t know if they can do this.”

Gammons gave an update on the injury situations of Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury. With the Sox becoming woefully thin in the outfield, Gammons said that the team believes Cameron will be ready to play tomorrow.

As for Ellsbury, that issue is more foggy. “There are a lot of questions,” Gammons said. “It is more like a pull because [of] the way the rib separated when Adrian Beltre crashed into him. They don’t want to put him on the DL and then find out in three days he can play. So they sort of put the whole Josh Reddick thing on the backburner.”

Gammons did say that there should be a decision in the next few days as to whether the Sox will call up Reddick and put Ellsbury on the DL.

Bullpen troubles have also plagued the Sox early in the season, and Gammons said that he believes the team might be overworking Daniel Bard. The big issue for the Sox is that there does not seem to be much help on the horizon in the minor leagues in terms of middle relief.

“What worries me about the Red Sox is that I don’t see a Daniel Bard coming up from Pawtucket,” he said. “Their relievers in Pawtucket are probably not going to be guys that you are going to be using in the 7th or 8th inning in July. They might have to go outside the organization to get someone.”

A full transcript of the interview is below. To listen, click here.

Interesting to look at the starting lineup tonight. Pedroia third, Drew second and Jason Varitek is catching. Is it safe to say with him in the lineup that that might be the battery from here on out?

Yeah, I think so. Josh is very comfortable with him and Victor Martinez is going to catch Wakefield. So I think it works. I really do believe, and I agree with Jason, that this is a role he can do for awhile. He is more relaxed and you are getting more production from him playing a lot less frequently because he is such an intense player. I think that part of the catching situation will work out pretty well.

What does worry me is Victor Martinez behind the plate, and the way he is throwing the ball. He has had this problem in the past, but what about this weekend against a team that likes to run to begin with and may be looking at the video from the last few games and saying, “Let’s go out and have a field day here, boys.”

Well, there is no question that becomes a major element. They were 31 out of 35 running on Boston last year in 18 games. I think it is going to be a track meet this time around. Lou knows. [Martinez] had problems throwing in Cleveland, that is why he stopped catching. This is an issue. To me there are three issues on this team: obviously the Ortiz issue is a major one that is related a little bit to the Martinez issue, and then middle relief. I don’t know if, unless Gary Tuck comes up with some miracle way of getting Victor more consistent, I don’t know if they can do this and have so many stolen bases against them. Which may require going out and finding another catcher or bringing up [Mark] Wagner or whatever they want to do.

With this whole run prevention thing, you are going to be victimized an awful lot if you are putting guys on first base and they are automatically getting to second.

Oh, absolutely. And I think it impacts the pitching staff. You have guys thinking about, ‘Uh oh, I better be quicker about getting to the plate’ or I better do this or that. If you start worrying about the base runner and not the hitter I think that you end up diminishing yourself by 10 or 20 percent. I think it is something they will monitor very closely. I think it will be an interesting month as they watch Ortiz, as they watch Martinez and as they decide what to do with the pitching staff as Daisuke [Matsuzaka] is going to be, what, one more start in the minors and then see who heads to the bullpen and who do they keep in middle relief.

With this bullpen, I think Clay Buchholz gives you more value than a Tim Wakefield. It is going to be a tough decision that, like I said, could break this kid?

Well, I look at it two ways. I know exactly what you are saying. In the long run, you’d like to think that Buchholz is going to be the best of the three. But in the short time, with the problems they have in relief, would Buchholz be okay with them saying, ‘Okay Clay, go out there and concentrate on throwing your two-seamer down in the strike zone and just concentrate on throwing pitches’? As Daniel Bard likes to say, dumb-down and go from hitter to hitter. Maybe he would be better off in the long run if he goes out there and throws strikes and keeps the ball down. I think there is a chance that would really work with him. And then come June or July he is back in the rotation and ends up fine.

There are injury concerns with Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury.

They think Cameron will play tomorrow.

What about Ellsbury?

There are a lot of questions. It is more like a pull because [of] the way the rib separated when Adrian Beltre crashed into him. They don’t want to put him on the DL and then find out in three days he can play. So they sort of put the whole Josh Reddick thing off for a couple of days until they determine what Ellsbury’s situation is because they can backdate his time on the DL back to when he got hurt. But he was starting to really hit and they don’t want to be caught in a situation when he is able to play for five, six or seven days and he doesn’t. I think they will probably make that decision today or tomorrow on whether to bring Reddick up.

We talk so much about David Ortiz and his slow start. People talk about leash, and this year there are other options out there. How long is this leash?

I think one month. I think what has been discouraging for everybody is he has been getting in hitter’s counts. He had that one game against the Yankees where he had 2-1, 3-1, 3-1 and got fastballs over the plate. He is leaking so much that he is not driving the ball in the air to left center like he did in his prime. The other day against Kansas City, on Sunday, I can’t remember what reliever it was — it was a guy who was completely clueless — he had him 3-0 and he still threw the ball by him.

Robinson Tejeda.

Tejeda. Right. That is what they worry about with him. Is this that he is embarrassed or has he just lost his reflexes. I think they will give him as much room as they can, but against left-handers you will see Mike Lowell in there. I thought at the time when they got [Jeremy] Hermida it was a fascinating move and I think he is going to end up a guy who is going to be important to them. When they are facing Jake Peavy and [AJ] Burnett, good breaking ball right-handers, I thought all along as the season wore along that he would be playing left field and Ellsbury would be in center, and they would give Mike Cameron the day off. If he hits the way most people in baseball thought he was going to hit when he came up — and he just turned 26 in January — I think he becomes a very important guy.

I agree with you. They gave nothing up to get him and he was a guy who was highly touted a few years ago. But why has this happened to him? He is kind of a guy like J.D. Drew with his personality, not driven enough. Is that it?

If you go and ask Joe Girardi, he will say just the opposite. He came up with Joe, and Joe really likes him. The current group of people … they believe in swinging the bat. That is why they didn’t draft Jason Heyward, because they thought he was not aggressive enough. Well, he is the best young hitter in the sport. So plate discipline is a part of it. I would be very interested to see — I have [not] found anyone to complain that Hermida is too low-key here in Boston. Is he quiet? Yes. But it is one of those things where he just bounces back and says, well, it is not my day. I think he will be a fascinating guy as this season comes along. He came up the same time that Jeff Francoeur did and I remember people all around baseball when Francoeur had that one great month, they said to me, ‘Well, measure them up over their careers and Hermida is going to be a much better player than Francoeur.’ So he has definitely come to the right park and the right situation in the right time in his career. He is 26 so he has plenty of time to go back and restore himself.

Peter, is the bullpen going to be alright and what is wrong with Daniel Bard?

I think Bard just got used so much. He pitched in five of the first six games because Manny [Delcarman] was struggling and [Ramon] Ramirez has really struggled. I am not particularly worried about Bard. He has given some up but I think he is so vital to that team.  When he gets that breaking ball going a little bit he will be fine. I think there are serious concerns otherwise. I think the Delcarmen, Ramirez, Schoeneweis group is who they are really concerned about. I don’t think they are worried at all about Bard, especially as he keeps honing that changeup. But the rest of the group, I think there are some serious concerns there.

You look at the three teams — the Red Sox, the Yankees and the Rays — and you could argue that this division, and maybe the postseason spot, is going to be won out of that bullpen.

It could be. The Rays have really struggled in the bullpen as well. I personally thought that the move of Joba Chamberlain back to the bullpen was absolutely the right move. I think Phil Hughes has the better chance to be a good starter, especially with that changeup he is honing now. It is amazing that the Texas Rangers have the best ERA and the best starter’s ERA in baseball right now, so those things do change. Tampa’s starters have been terrific, but their bullpen is a little shaky. Not as shaky as Baltimore’s, but it is a little shaky.

Well, they need Rafael Soriano to have a big year for them.

They do. Dan Wheeler is good, but they need some more guys. They are not going to get [J.P.] Howell back probably until June. I don’t think [Randy] Choate is going to be an answer. So they will probably make some changes there. What worries me about the Red Sox is that I don’t see a Daniel Bard coming up from Pawtucket, where you say, ‘OK, this guy is going to come up and help.’ Their relievers in Pawtucket are probably not going to be guys that you are going to be using in the 7th or 8th inning in July. They might have to go outside the organization to get a guy or two.

That bullpen has really been a concern even before the season started. When you have question marks and you can’t go to these guys in big situations, two things are going to happen. One, you burn out the good arms and then those other guys are not sharp when you need them. This year is not starting off at all like last year.

No, it’s not. That game last Sunday against the Royals, you figure that Delcarmen gets through and goes two innings. You figure they can go to Ramirez and he can finish up an 8-3 lead, but they ended up having to use Bard and [Jonathan] Papelbon at the end of the game. At that point, that was the sixth game. Bard had already appeared in five. I actually texted him after and asked if he had an incentive clause if he made 135 appearances.

If Ortiz doesn’t hit in a month, what happens to Big Papi?

I don’t think they are going to keep him here and sit him on the bench. Every bit of my heart says I hope he bounces back. I think it is going to be a very difficult decision for Tito [Terry Francona] and Theo [Epstein] to decide what to do.

Would they let him go?

If it was bad enough, I think they might have to. It is tough to have David Ortiz and Mike Lowell sitting on the bench because you need 12 pitchers at some point or another and you can’t have a totally inflexible bench. It is one of those things where we are getting ahead of ourselves because there have only been nine games, but at the same time it is one of those things where they are very much aware that this kind of decision is eventually going to have to be made.

Lou mentioned the other day that he might be looking at this differently than a year ago because now he is down to the last year because that option year is looking less and less likely to be exercised. His whole career suddenly changes dramatically. How much do you think that is playing on a guy like David Ortiz this year vs. last year?

I think that is something to think about. I think there are so many things going on in his head, which is why more than nine games is required to decide where he is.

The least of them being Jay-Z, right?

Yeah. Come on Jay-Z, when he is striking out, don’t be picking on him. But that business of — he seems so afraid to get to two strikes, and that used to be his hallmark. Obviously take, take, take until he got something he wanted to hit. And that is a tough thing for hitters. I think I mentioned here last week that was something Travis Hafner and I talked about a lot this spring. He got hurt and he got afraid, and Lou knows from playing with him that he used to be great. He used to sit up there with two strikes fearlessly. And he told me he got so afraid about getting to two strikes when he got hurt that he was swinging at everything. Papi is kind of that way right now. And Hafner got healthy and he has had some great at bats this year. So maybe there is a hope that Papi gets his confidence and his health back and all of a sudden he starts putting the ball in the air to left-center field, which is how he became a great hitter.

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Daisuke: ‘I’m ready to answer that call’

04.16.10 at 6:03 pm ET
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Daisuke Matsuzaka will make at least one more start in the minor leagues, with Red Sox manager Terry Francona announcing that the pitcher will make his third straight appearance for the Pawtucket Red Sox, starting Wednesday against Lehigh Valley, the Phillies Triple A affiliate. Matsuzaka has not allowed a run in his first two rehab outings with the PawSox, going a total of 11 innings.

Matsuzaka, who is coming off back and neck ailments, said that he feels ready to return to the Red Sox, but hasn’t yet heard about what the team’s plans are following his next start in the minors.

“I don’t think I’ve really been told that after one more start I’m definitely going to be back in the rotation,” he said through translator Masa Hoshino. “But no matter how many more rehab outings I have, whether it’s one or two, all I can really do is do my best to be ready to join the rotation when I’m asked to.

“Personally I feel like I’m ready even now to come back. Since I’ve been given the opportunity to pitch in one more minor league game. I think I am going to take that chance to work on some finer things and make some more detailed adjustments.”

Matsuzaka has been pleased with how both his stuff and physical conditioning has progressed throughout the pitcher’s stint with the PawSox. His fastball has been regularly clocked in the low 90′s, and he has allowed just a total of five hits, striking out five and walking one.

“The past two starts both my fastball and breaking balls have been pretty good,” he said. “Basically, I think its just continuing to work on those things, continuing to make that type of progress in both types of pitches in my next start. I guess the only thing I can really ask for is my overall condition continues to improve and the adjustments I need to make are small, minor things.

“The discomfort from any of those injuries have went away. I feel I have been able to pitch very confidently without any hesitation. Whether that’s going into games, or seeing how my body responds after games I haven’t had any problems since then.”

While there hasn’t been any indication what the Red Sox might do regarding their rotation when Matsuzaka returns, the pitcher feels the time is drawing near to when he might force some decision.

“Physically and mechanically I’m able to pitch without any hesitation thanks to that long process,” Matsuzaka said. “Now I just want to wait for the team to call on me and I feel like I’m ready to answer that call whenever that may be.”

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Red Sox shuffle lineup: Guess who’s hitting third?

04.16.10 at 3:17 pm ET
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With Jacoby Ellsbury (ribs) and Mike Cameron (kidney stone) out of the lineup against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, the Red Sox feature a dramatically altered lineup complexion for the series opener. That alteration is amplified by the fact that Josh Beckett, for the second straight start, will be paired with catcher Jason Varitek.

With Victor Martinez out, Dustin Pedroia will bat third, with J.D. Drew batting second. Bill Hall is currently in the lineup in center field, batting ninth. With Cameron’s late scratch on Thursday, Hall made his first start in center since 2007, though he was already in the lineup against Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano. His presence in the lineup against Rays right-hander Wade Davis, on the other hand, reflects necessity, as Hall has the lowest average (.178) and OBP (.251) in the majors against right-handers (min. 400 at-bats) since the start of 2008.

Pedroia has three prior starts in his career as the No. 3 hitter in the lineup, last on Sept. 25, 2008. In 13 plate appearances from that spot, he has a .333/.308/.417/.724 line.

RED SOX

Scutaro, 6
Drew, 9
Pedroia, 4
Youkilis, 3
Ortiz, DH
Beltre, 5
Hermida, 7
Varitek, 2
Hall, 8

SP – Beckett

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Red Sox vs. Rays matchups, 4/16

04.16.10 at 1:02 pm ET
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The Red Sox return home to Fenway to open up a four-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night, after losing the series in Minnesota. With a rough performance all-around in Thursday’s 8-0 loss to the Twins,  Terry Francona will look to Josh Beckett to get his team back on the right track.

The Sox are hoping Beckett found an early season groove after his last start at Kansas City. The right-hander went seven innings and allowed three earned runs, striking out four on the day. More importantly, Beckett kept the ball in the ballpark and had better control than in his previous outing, when he allowed two homers and three walks while allowing five runs in 4.2 innings against the Yankees.

Beckett will be facing a familiar opponent in AL East foe Tampa Bay. The only other team that he faced as often last season was the Yankees. In five starts vs. the Rays, Beckett was 2-1 with a 5.02 ERA. Those numbers were skewed by a particularly rough outing in his second start vs. the Rays on April 30, when he lasted just 4.2 innings and gave up 10 hits and seven earned runs in a 13-0 Boston loss.

In fact, the Rays were the cure for Beckett’s struggles last September after he had gone a month without a win. After a two-hour rain delay, Beckett earned the victory in a rain-shortened 9-1 Sox victory on Sept. 12 by allowing four hits and just one run in five strong innings of work.

Beckett has done well against Tampa Bay in the past, coming into this one with a 7-4 record and 3.68 ERA in 15 career starts vs. the Rays. He also has struck out more batters against the Rays than any other team he has faced — 111 over the course of his career, and 10.5 per nine innings.

The opposing pitcher in that game against the Rays last Sept. 12 was Wade Davis, who will be on the mound for Tampa Bay against Beckett once again.

Davis will be making his second start of the 2010 season. He did not fare too well in Tampa Bay’s 10-0 loss to the Yankees on April 10, giving up four earned runs and walking four in six innings of work.

Still, that performance was better than the start against Boston last season, when Davis was tagged for eight earned runs in just 2.2 innings of work. Four walks did not help his cause, and control has been an issue for the 24-year-old since he made his big league debut last September. The Sox won’t have much history against Davis to work with in this one, and the Rays are hoping that he will start giving them quality starts at the back of their rotation.

Red Sox vs. Wade Davis

Adrian Beltre (3 career plate appearances vs. Davis): .000 average/.333 OBP/.000 slugging, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

J.D. Drew (2): .000/.500/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Jacoby Ellsbury (2): .000/.000/.000

Victor Martinez (2): .500/.500/.500

David Ortiz (2): 1.000/1.000/1.000, 1 walk

Dustin Pedroia (2): .500/.500/.500

Jason Varitek (2): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout

Kevin Youkilis (2): 1.000/1.000/1.000, 1 walk

A plethora of Sox players have never faced Davis. Mike Cameron, Bill Hall, Jeremy Hermida, Mike Lowell and Marco Scutaro all have not had an at bat against the Rays starter.

Rays vs. Josh Beckett

Pat Burrell (54 career plate appearances vs. Beckett): .204 average/.278 OBP/.265 slugging, 1 home run, 5 walks, 13 strikeouts

Carl Crawford (38): .306/.316/.444, 1 home run, 1 walks, 9 strikeouts

Jason Bartlett (32): .300/.313/.367, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts

Dioner Navarro (28): .154/.214/.154, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts

Carlos Pena (28): .120/.214/.280, 1 home run, 3 walks, 16 strikeouts

Evan Longoria (27): .269/.296/.500, 3 doubles, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts

B.J. Upton (21): .300/.300/.450, 3 doubles, 7 strikeouts

Willy Aybar (8): .571/.625/1.000, 1 double, 1 triple, 1 walk

Ben Zobrist (8): .000/.125/.000, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Beckett has never faced Reid Brignac or former Red Sox outfielder Gabe Kapler.

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