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Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield was scratched from his next start with a recurring back injury, leaving the Red Sox scrambling for starting pitching. Wake was on the disabled list since the All-Star Break before making a start earlier this week against the White Sox. He was impressive in a no-decision, allowing just one run in seven innings. Wake’s performance led the team to agree to drop the ineffective Brad Penny (at his wish), who is currently in the process of clearing waivers.
“Remember back in Texas when this first started with Wake and his lower back or his lower buttocks — wherever it was — kind of locked him up,” Francona said. “That’s happened again. He was initially a little but tender after his start, which I think we all thought he would be. Then we wanted to wait a day and see if he got better, then today he came in and he was really sore.”
Clay Buchholz is slated to start Saturday night’s game against the Blue Jays (weather permitting). If the game is postponed, Buchholz will start tomorrow instead. With Monday’s off-day, the Red Sox can skip a Wakefield start without plugging someone into the rotation, assuming the game is canceled Saturday.
If the game is on Saturday, Buchholz will start, and the Red Sox will bring in the recently re-acquired Paul Byrd to start Sunday against the Blue Jays. Either way, the Red Sox may be in trouble.
The 43-year-old Wakefield is the clear No. 3 starter if this team makes the playoffs, but if he isn’t able to go, it severely weakens the starting rotation. Buchholz becomes the No. 3 starter, Junichi Tazawa (or another starter) becomes the No. 4 starter, and Paul Byrd/(enter name of crappy pitcher in the minors or on the waiver wire here) would become the No. 5 starter the rest of the season.
There’s a chance Daisuke Matsuzaka returns in September, and if he can give the Sox anything, it would be huge. He could grab hold of that No. 3 spot, but there’s obviously no guarantee there.
So, all in all, Wakefield needs to make sure his back gets in shape, or the Red Sox could be golfing early this year.