Daisuke Matsuzaka to Rejoin Rotation, But in Place of Whom?

Daisuke Matsuzaka to Rejoin Rotation, But in Place of Whom? BOSTON — Daisuke Matsuzaka will rejoin the Red Sox rotation next week, according to manager Terry Francona. Whose spot he’ll take remains a mystery.

Matsuzaka, who went 2-0 with a 1.62 ERA in three rehab starts for Triple-A Pawtucket, would be lined up to pitch Monday in Toronto, but that will also be Josh Beckett‘s day. The Red Sox have a day off next Thursday.

Francona said before Thursday’s game against the Texas Rangers that he and pitching coach John Farrell have yet to sit down with Matsuzaka to map out a plan for the right-hander’s 2010 debut.

“Dice will pitch for us,” Francona said. “We will insert him in the rotation. … There’s a little bit of time before he pitches, so just making our rotation work with the off day coming up, we want to make it all work. It’s not a big secret but I do want to get a chance to talk to him and Johnny first.”

Francona insisted there will be no six-man rotation for the time being. While such a strategy could be explored during the dog days of summer when starters need rest, it will not be employed when Matsuzaka returns.

Clay Buchholz, one candidate to have his spot taken, takes a 1-1 mark and a 1.80 ERA into Thursday’s start against the Rangers. Either he or Tim Wakefield, who is 0-1 with a 6.38 ERA, may go to the bullpen. Francona said no decision has been made.

Wakefield’s next start is Sunday afternoon against Baltimore.

“I think there’s a time and place to do all that stuff,” the skipper said of when he will make any decisions.

For now, Matsuzaka has shown that the neck strain that bothered him in spring training is not an issue. He struck out 13 and walked just one in 16 2/3 innings for the PawSox, lasting 5 2/3 in an outing Wednesday in Lehigh Valley.

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