The Red Sox cleared Josh Beckett to start Wednesday after his 25-pitch bullpen session went well Monday, and they announced plans to return Daisuke Matsuzaka to the rotation on Friday.
Beckett, whose normal turn would have fallen tonight, was given extra rest after failing to come out with his best stuff in a no-decision last week against Baltimore. He previously threw 125 pitches on April 21 against the Angels, and it seemed his arm didn’t respond as well as hoped afterwards.
Matsuzaka left his start Friday in the fifth inning because of right elbow tightness, but the Red Sox have decided against putting him on the disabled list or having him skip a start. Like Beckett, he’ll be pitching on six days’ rest this week.
With both veterans in line to start, it doesn’t look like Tim Wakefield will get an opportunity for an encore performance anytime soon. Filling in for an ailing Clay Buchholz on Sunday, he pitched 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball (with the lone run scoring after he left) in his first start of the year. He exited in line for the win, only to end up with a no-decision when Bobby Jenks blew the lead. The Red Sox did end up winning in the bottom of the ninth to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Mariners.
Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.
Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.
Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.