By Maureen Mullen
BOSTON - Because of the 13-inning game that took almost eight hours to complete over Wednesday night and Thursday morning, Red Sox manager Terry Francona is shuffling his starting rotation. Tim Wakefield starts today against the Twins on what would have been Daisuke Matsuzaka's regular day, Clay Buchholz starts Saturday, with Matsuzaka starting Sunday, and Josh Beckett pitching the finale of the four-game set. Jon Lester and John Lackey will start the two games in Toronto on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. The Sox have an off-day on May 12, their first since April 25. The rotation tweaking allows Francona to give his starters some rest before then.
"We have a chance to maybe give Lester an extra day or two and also align the rotation going forward. So it kind of kills all the birds with one stone," Francona said. "It was just a chance to give us a couple of days."
Lester's last start was May 3, giving him two extra days of rest.
"Not really that he needs a break. I think it's good for him," Francona said. "I think we do try to listen to him and talk to him and find out how we can help or when we can help because I think sometimes we think we're helping and we get in the way. We don't want to do that. When we talked to him about this I think he was on board with it so it seems like it makes sense."
Matsuzaka's regular day would have been today. But after pitching an inning of relief in the marathon game, and taking the loss, Francona decided to push him back. Matsuzaka left after facing one batter in the fifth inning of his last start, on April 29, said he expects to be 100 percent by Sunday.
"My elbow is getting better, gradually getting better," he said through a team interpreter. "So, as the game is scheduled, I will be ready for the game."
Matsuzaka was not surprised that he was pressed into duty on Thursday morning. He said he expected at some point in his career he would have to make a relief appearance. But it was a somewhat difficult experience for him.
"It's actually difficult to get ready as a relief pitcher, and I knew that they wouldn't have enough time, I wouldn't have enough time to get ready," he said. "So that was difficult. But all I did was just try to get focused on getting ready and throw just like regular outings.
"At the same time," he said through another team interpreter, "just because there was no extra room to think about it which is why he could at least a little bit focus to do things he needed to do to get ready for the game."
Right-hander Alfredo Aceves arrived in the clubhouse at about 4:15. He was called up to replace Scott Atchison, who pitched 3 23innigs Thursday. Aceves will work out of the bullpen while he is here.
Francona said he would be a fan of weekly doubleheaders, with a roster change.
"Add a pitcher for that day," he said. "You could still play the same amount of games. You could shorten the season. You could create a little bit of extra jobs for guys. The big deal for doubleheaders is mainly the pitching. Just bring a pitcher. Bring a starter. I think it would be great.
"Bud Selig, if you're listening, I'm talking to you now."
Jarrod Saltalamacchia will catch for Wakefield tonight, as he did in Wakefield's start on May 1.
"Both of Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek have done pretty well catching Wakefield," Francona said." I know my first three or four years here that was always the panic. We had to fly Doug Mirabelli in and get him the car service and all this. Now guys have really done a pretty good job. Even in spring training, the guys that caught him, they've all seemed to do well. Maybe having bullpen coach Gary Tuck around had something to do with that. It hasn't been as much of an issue."
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen