Notes: Beckett confirmed for Game 1
After ace in opener, Wakefield could start Game 2 on Thursday
BOSTON -- On Monday afternoon at Fenway Park, where several sleepy-eyed Red Sox filed in and out of the home clubhouse for a "very optional" team workout, it was just too early, manager Terry Francona said, to announce a World Series rotation.
"[Josh] Beckett's going to throw Game 1," Francona confirmed. "And from there, we're going to go out and have an optional workout. ... Then we'll have a meeting after the workout with scouts [and] staff, and we'll get to those decisions. There's some things we need to think about.
"It's a little bit rushed right now. It'd be a little bit inappropriate [to announce]."
As in any series, Francona said, the Red Sox's World Series roster and rotation will depend on a number of factors. Among them are "health, who we're playing, where we're playing, the scouting report."
"Where" could prove the biggest variable of all when the Sox manager announces Boston's plans on Tuesday. Given home-field advantage, the Red Sox will play Games 1 and 2 -- and Games 6 and 7, if necessary -- at Fenway Park. Games 3 through 5 will take place nearly a mile above sea level, at Denver's Coors Field.
No pitcher's fortunes -- on either roster -- will rise and fall with the local terrain like Tim Wakefield's. The 41-year-old right-hander depends on air resistance to give his knuckleball its trademark flutter. Concerns about Denver's thin air during the summer of 2004, in fact, convinced the Red Sox and general manager Theo Epstein to reset their rotation as early as June 4 for a June 15-17 Interleague series against the Rockies.
"You don't want to tell Wake he can't go in there and have success, because he might," Francona said then, before the only series at Coors between the teams. "But you also have to make judgments we think are in our club's best interest. I just think this is probably the right thing to do."
On Monday, Epstein was asked about Wakefield's status.
"We're going to talk about all those things in our meetings later today," Epstein said. "So I'm sure it'll come up the next couple of days. But now is not a good time to talk about that stuff."
Presumably, the Red Sox would be able start Wakefield in Games 2 and 6 at Fenway, allowing him to avoid the thin air. This year, Wakefield threw one of his best starts of the season at Fenway against the Rockies, allowing one run in eight innings on June 12.
Starting Wakefield in Game 2 would also allow the Sox to give Curt Schilling an extra day of rest before a Game 3 start in Denver on Saturday. Schilling would still be able to start twice in the World Series, with the veteran then being lined up for a potential Game 7 at Fenway on Nov. 1.
Matsuzaka's change of pace: In such a scenario, Daisuke Matsuzaka would start only once during the World Series. There's no telling what effect the thin air of Coors would have on the gyroball.
Luckily, the rookie right-hander is showing signs of improved command of his changeup. The last pitch of Matsuzaka's Game 7 win against the Indians on Sunday was so wicked, floating high and moving left to right, that Cleveland second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera's bat connected with nothing but air.
"It was up," Epstein said, "[but] it just had such good arm action, arm speed, and such good fade, that it didn't matter that it was up. He's got an '80' changeup on a 20-80 [scouting] scale in Japan. Let's be honest: it was hardly here this year. You know, we got away from that. It's something that makes his fastball, so we've got to get back to that."
Days of rest: Monday's workout represented one day of rest. Tuesday's mandatory practice will be No. 2.
The formerly hot Rockies, meanwhile, haven't played a game since Oct. 15, one week ago. Nine days will have elapsed for Colorado between its Game 4 National League Championship Series win and Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday.
"We'd rather go in seeing five pitches in a couple days than nine days off," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "I mean, that's got to be tough."
"I think you want to play right away," agreed right fielder J.D. Drew. "Baseball's a game of routine, and as the season goes along, you work two days off a month. And sometimes you don't necessarily want days off, because you kind of find yourself in a good rhythm."
Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan, likewise, pointed out that the Tigers' bats went on ice during their seven-day break before the 2006 Fall Classic.
"I don't know what they did," Magadan said. "[I'm not sure] whether they brought pitchers in from instructional league to throw for them or whether they hit off their own pitchers. That helps. But it can be tough."
Magadan was told that the Tigers took batting practice against their own pitchers.
"We [have done that] here," he said. "It's not the same for the pitchers; it's not the same for the hitters. But [the Rockies] have overcome a lot of obstacles this year. Hopefully they've cooled off, but they've had a lot of magic happen over there."
Crisp update: A day after center fielder Coco Crisp crashed into the right-center-field wall on the catch that gave the Red Sox the AL pennant, his knee was "fine."
"I believe so," Francona said. "I was real concerned. Everybody's jumping around, and it looked like it was certainly awkward, but he said he was fine."
Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.