When Daisuke Matsuzaka returns from his rehab assignment sometime during the next 10 days, the Red Sox will need to make room for him on the 25-man roster.
At about the same time, Jacoby Ellsbury—sidelined with four fractured ribs—will also be coming off the disabled list, though it may be some time before he can play.
Mike Cameron—now only famous for muffing a simple fly ball—may be gone for months as he faces possible abdominal surgery, but he will return eventually.
As these players find their way back to Fenway, one must ask the question:
Which current players will get the boot?
Not all the candidates possess the requisite options simply to send them down to the minors. Some would have to be designated for assignment, and we all know what that means.
The Hitting and Fielding Dance
In Ellsbury and Cameron’s absence, the hot-hitting and now fan-favorite Darnell McDonald and up-and-coming Josh Reddick have been called up.
When Ellsbury returns, the most obvious choice is to option the young Reddick back to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Reddick has the options.
Assuming this is the move the Red Sox choose to make, the real question becomes: What will happen when Mike Cameron returns?
If everyone else remains healthy, and continues to produce at relatively similar levels, a tough decision could be looming.
As of today, the Fenway faithful would hate to see Darnell McDonald go, and if he continues with the same strike-zone recognition he’s already demonstrated, his early display of dramatics won’t be a flash in the pan.
Should David Ortiz or J.D. Drew—his grand slam aside—continue to struggle between now and Cameron’s return? The Red Sox will have had plenty of time to determine whether these are just early-season doldrums or permanent declines.
Bill Hall would be the most likely candidate to cut if one goes off reputation, but Hall provides much greater defensive flexibility than a career designated hitter like Ortiz.
The bottom line is that these injuries could force the Red Sox to make a decision sooner than perhaps they’d like. Then again, perhaps outside influences are necessary when such tough decisions are at hand.
Who will it be? McDonald? Hall? Ortiz? Drew? Lowell?
The Pitching Situation
Daisuke Matsuzaka’s “timely” late start has allowed Clay Buchholz to show off his stuff. Both pitchers throw too many pitches and habitually find themselves making early exits, but Buchholz is pitching much better than the grand Japanese import.
Indeed, anyone who caught Buchholz’ impressive outing Wednesday night would agree he’s again starting to deal like the young phenom Fenway thought would be an ace by now.
Fanning 10 and allowing only three late earned runs in 6 2/3 innings Thursday night, Buchholz may be nearly there. Indeed, on the young season, Buchholz owns a 2.70 ERA over 16 2/3 innings, and he just keeps getting stronger.
Now that—according to Redsox.com—Matsuzaka’s return means Tim Wakefield shifts to the bullpen, one of the current relievers will need to go.
Assuming that Daniel Bard, Hideki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen, Ramon Ramirez, and Jonathan Papelbon are safe, one of the two Scotts—Atchison or Schoeneweis—will need to go.
Which Scott will it be?
Atchison has performed slightly better than Schoeneweis, but the pen needs lefties.
Remove Schoeneweis, and only Hideki Okajima would remain.
Perhaps—as always seems to be the case—someone like Tim Wakefield will mysteriously need a stint on the disabled list when the time comes.
Barring that, would it be Atchison or Schoeneweis?