|Franklin Morales ‘waiting in the wings’ with Josh Beckett’s availability uncertain||08.01.12 at 8:59 pm ET|
For now, it does not appear that Josh Beckett will head to the disabled list after leaving Tuesday night’s start in the top of the third inning due to back spasms. Indeed, it is unclear whether he will even miss a start.
Right now, the Red Sox are waiting for symptoms to subside and to see if Beckett can throw a normal between-starts bullpen session in the next day or two.
“It will all be predicated on the bullpen session, which isn’t until at least tomorrow, maybe the next day, where he’ll test it and that will predicate whether he makes the start,” said Sox manager Bobby Valentine. “He’s a little stiff. You know, not surprisingly. He had spasms and he’s a big guy so we don’t know how to read that other than it doesn’t seem, when [GM Ben Cherington] talked to him, he said it didn’t seem like it was a 15-day stint or anything. One of those, we’ll just play it by ear.”
The Sox have a well-defined fallback plan if Beckett is unavailable. If the right-hander canot pitch, the team will turn to left-hander Franklin Morales, who recorded the final out (the second of the sixth inning) of the Sox’ rain-truncated victory on 4-1 victory over the Tigers on Tuesday for his first save of the season.
For now, the Red Sox are going to stay away from using Morales out of the bullpen until they achieve greater clarity about Beckett’s availability.
“[Morales would] be our first choice if we need a starter,” said Valentine. “There’s not a formal plan for him to make a start, but he’s definitely in the wings. Considering he’s been up a lot of times in the bullpen, he’s thrown a couple times in a game in the last five days, today would probably be an off day anyway. That’ll give us a little more time tomorrow to evaluate the situation.”
Of course, it was with the idea of being able to move Morales from the bullpen to the rotation that the Red Sox acquired left-hander Craig Breslow. Breslow’s arrival means that, if Morales does go back into the rotation (where he made five spectacular starts in June and July, punching out more than 10 batters per nine innings while forging a 3.42 ERA), the Sox will have a second left-hander as a complement to Andrew Miller.
As the Sox surveyed the landscape of available starters, the team felt that either the price was prohibitive (for pitchers like Josh Johnson) or the pitcher’s stuff could not match up to that of Morales. And so, the decision was made to make the move for Breslow to give the team the option of adding a potential impact starter to the rotation, even though the team’s only move impacting the big league roster at the deadline was the addition of a reliever.
One footnote: According to a team source, the Red Sox never came close to dealing Aaron Cook, even as it made a move with an eye towards the possibility of shifting Morales into the rotation. The team’s desire to maintain as much big league starting depth as possible meant that the team was looking to add rotation options rather than diminish them.
Still, with Cook getting shelled for six runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings on Wednesday — his second straight six-run yield in fewer than five innings — it would appear that there is a strong likelihood that Morales will move back into the rotation in the near future, whether in Beckett’s spot or Cook’s.
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