Not so fast. Dice-K isn't in the rotation quite yet

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dice-k and wakefield.pngAs Drew detailed on Thursday, Daisuke Matsuzaka is set to replace Tim Wakefield in the starting rotation, but it turns out that won’t happen until next weekend in Baltimore, according to Paul Kenyon of the Providence Journal.

Wakefield will make one more start this Sunday against the Orioles, meanwhile, Matsuzaka will stay fresh with a simulated game scheduled for Monday in Toronto. Francona wouldn’t say exactly when Matsuzaka will make his first start, but the simulated game should line him up for a start on Saturday, as the Red Sox have a scheduled day off on Thursday.

When asked if he had spoken to Wakefield about his decision, Francona chose his words rather carefully:

“I don’t know how to say this,” he began. “We’re trying to
communicate with our guys the best we can and at the same time not ever
communicate through the media. That doesn’t ever seem like a good idea.
We’ll do what we think is right.”

The Red Sox have survived through a far more awkward situation with Mike Lowell — and it looks like he might end up being pretty useful with the current struggles of David Ortiz — so don’t be surprised if the grizzled Wakefield has a chance at redemption somewhere down the line.
 

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉