Losing Wakefield Could Strain Boston's Rotation

By Barry Svrluga and Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, October 24, 2007

BOSTON, Oct. 23 -- Had the Boston Red Sox been able to set up their ideal rotation for the World Series, they would have thrown ace Josh Beckett in Wednesday's Game 1, with knuckleballer Tim Wakefield to follow in Game 2. Throw in Curt Schilling and Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Beckett and Wakefield would have returned for Games 5 and 6, respectively.

"It's not going to happen -- unfortunately," a somber Wakefield said Tuesday at Fenway Park.

With that, the Red Sox made the somewhat startling announcement that Wakefield, a 17-game winner this year who has been with Boston since 1995, won't be on the roster to face Colorado. He has too much inflammation in the back of his right shoulder. A cortisone shot allowed him to pitch in the American League Championship Series against Cleveland. But he has needed more time to recover between starts.

"I just don't think it's fair to the other 24 guys on this team that I go out there," Wakefield said. "Maybe I pitch well and maybe I don't, and then I'm not available for the rest of the series."

That leaves the Red Sox with a rotation of Beckett Wednesday, Schilling in Game 2 and Matsuzaka in Game 3. Francona declined to say what the club will do in Game 4, though lefty Jon Lester threw four innings in a simulated game and, as Francona said, "He's not being groomed for the bullpen tomorrow."

Cook Will Start Game 4

The Rockies added right-hander Aaron Cook, who hasn't pitched since Aug. 10 because of a strained muscle in his side, to their roster and named him their Game 4 starter.

"At the end of the day, number one, his health is no longer an issue to me," Manager Clint Hurdle said. "He has valuable experience that I think will come into play. . . . I just felt that it gave us the best opportunity to win Game 4."

The Rockies will send rookie left-hander Franklin Morales -- who started in place of Cook in the first two postseason series -- to their bullpen, giving the Rockies three lefty relievers to counter David Ortiz and J.D. Drew, the Red Sox' two prominent left-handed hitters.

Red Sox Could Miss DH

Neither manager revealed his plans for dealing with the designated hitter issue. The Red Sox appear to have the more difficult choice, as the lack of a DH in the NL park means they will have to make do without one of their top hitters in Colorado.

Ortiz, the Red Sox' DH, took ground balls Tuesday at Fenway Park and likely will see action at first base in Denver -- although his balky knee could present problems. If Ortiz plays at first, the Red Sox will have to choose between Mike Lowell and Kevin Youkilis at third.

"It puts us at a disadvantage," Francona said. "The team that we set up to play 154 of our games -- we don't get to send out there. Youkilis, Lowell, Ortiz -- two out of three [will] play."

Hurdle also kept silent on his plans for adding a DH during the games in Boston. It appears likely outfielder Ryan Spilborghs will be inserted into the lineup as an extra bat -- however, it remains unclear whether he or regular left fielder Matt Holliday will be the DH.

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