Wakefield took a big step on Tuesday, throwing 77 pitches over five simulated innings against teammates. The knuckleballer was bothered late in the season by soreness in the back of his right shoulder. How did it feel during the simulated game?
"Good enough," said Wakefield.
If Wakefield can't go, the Red Sox would bring back Beckett on three days' rest for Game 4. Because of the off-days in the schedule, Beckett could then pitch Game 7 on a regular four days of rest.
But by the end of the workout, the Red Sox seemed confident that that contingency plan would not have to take place and that Wakefield, who won 17 games, was good to go for Game 4.
"Right now, barring any change of weather, barring any ... unforeseen changes, that would be our approach going in," said Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. "We'll certainly re-evaluate him in the morning when he comes in. At this point, the way he warmed up, the way he went through these five innings with no problems getting loose in between innings, that's always the key when you're getting up and down multiple times."
As for the decision to flip-flop Matsuzaka and Schilling?
"I think we tried to accomplish some things with Schill by giving him rest [in the Division Series], which I think really helped," said Francona. "That was probably the biggest thing. Now, [he'll go] on an extra day, and Daisuke's days are going to be a little bit mixed up anyway, so it's almost like skipping a turn. It will give him some time [to prepare], whether it's against hitters or side sessions. We just feel like this is our best way to go forward."
Matsuzaka pitched one of his best games of the season at Jacobs Field, outdueling C.C. Sabathia, 1-0, on July 24.
"I feel the mound there was good to pitch off of compared to others," said Matsuzaka. "It was a comfortable mound. It will be good to pitch there again."
The Indians will come out of the gate with co-aces Sabathia and Fausto Carmona for the first two games, which will be played Friday and Saturday at Fenway. Jake Westbrook will oppose Matsuzaka for Monday's Game 3.
Pedroia more relaxed: Rookie second baseman Dustin Pedroia admitted that he had some nerves prior to the ALDS. Pedroia expects the ALCS to feel more like business as usual.
"Every step is different for me," said Pedroia. "It's new. It's exciting. It took me a while to calm down that first series. I think this next series, I'll be more relaxed and I'll know what to expect a little bit more."
Pedroia went 2-for-13 against the Angels.
Trotting back in: Given how instrumental he was to the Red Sox winning the World Series in 2004, it will be strange to see right fielder Trot Nixon on the other side of the field during this ALCS.
Nixon got a hero's welcome when he came to Fenway with the Indians back in May. His former teammates are excited to see him again.
"That's my man right there," said Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. "I'm pretty sure people will be excited about seeing him coming back to Fenway and being out there in right field."
But not as excited as they were in the regular season. After all, the urgency of the games will likely take precedent for even the most avid Nixon followers.
"Again, if he plays, I hope he makes outs," said Francona. "All of us have a special place for Trot because of what he's done and what he's meant to the Red Sox. We don't need to be having, for a seven-game series, a Trot Nixon love-fest, and he's on second base 11 times. That wouldn't be good. Trot means a lot to everybody here because of the way he approached the game. I hope it's one of those things where we say hello to him and then he makes outs. We're here to win."
Roster decisions: Francona, general manager Theo Epstein and some other decision-makers will meet up following Wednesday's workout to discuss the roster alignment for the ALCS. Unlike the first round, when the Red Sox carried 10 pitchers, they will go with 11 this time around.
It might be that the only move the Sox make is to add Wakefield and subtract third catcher Kevin Cash. But no definitive decisions have been made. Francona did indicate that left-hander Jon Lester would remain on the roster as a long reliever.