Tim Wakefield will start Wednesday for the Red Sox against Toronto, with Josh Beckett's scheduled outing getting bumped to Friday in Detroit, manager Terry Francona announced on Monday afternoon.
Beckett, whose ERA sits at 7.46 after a rough outing on Friday against the Yankees, will throw an extra side session — his second — on either Tuesday or Wednesday. The Sox are off Thursday.
The reasons for the move are twofold.
One, Francona wants to ensure that Wakefield does not spend too much time in the bullpen so that it takes time to build him back up if he is needed. Two, Beckett gets more time to iron out any issues which surfaced in a horrid sixth inning against the Yankees, who reached Beckett for nine runs in 5 1/3 innings.
"We don't know what the future holds, but we won't have allowed [Wakefield] to get to a point where he hasn't pitched," Francona said. "I think it works as well as it can. We're trying to make this work, and I think this is a good thing."
The skipper has said since moving Wakefield to the bullpen that he views the knuckleballer as a starter. The latest is a signal that the team will keep Wakefield at the ready in the event that anyone goes down, giving him starts from time to time when the schedule allows it.
There is nothing physically wrong with Beckett, Francona said. In fact, the righty has said he feels great. But the move will also allow Beckett to avoid Toronto, which has owned him, and to pitch on extended rest, a scenario he has enjoyed in the past.
Beckett has a 4.22 ERA in 116 career starts on regular rest. That drops to 3.82 after five days off and to 3.09 with six days between starts, which will be the case when he takes the mound at Comerica Park.
In addition, he is 3-5 with a 7.34 ERA in 13 career starts against the Blue Jays.
"I hope we look at everything. We try not to overanalyze but we look at everything," Francona said when asked if those splits came into play when making the decision.
Wakefield will not necessarily be on any sort of pitch count. He has thrown just 6 1/3 innings since his last start April 25.
After Beckett's turn on Friday, the regular rotation will resume. Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester will finish the series against the Tigers, and John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka are lined up to pitch the two games in Yankee Stadium next Monday and Tuesday.