Showtime For Red Sox Bullpen Hopefuls
FORT MYERS, Fla (CBS) – There is just over a week until the Red Sox open up the 2011 MLB season in Texas, but there are still some lingering questions for Boston’s ballclub.
The biggest question regards the bullpen. Who makes the cut, and who is sent packing?
Over the next three days the Red Sox are hoping the players will help them make that decision.
Clay Buchholz will start against the Marlins Thursday afternoon, followed by bullpen hopefuls Matt Albers and Michael Bowden. Albers is one of the right-handers fighting for a spot out of the pen, while it appears Bowden will start the season in Pawtucket.
While the Sox play at Roger Dean Stadium in Clearwater against the Marlins, Scott Atchison, Tim Wakefield, Felix Doubront, Hideki Okajima and Rich Hill will throw against Boston’s minor league club in Fort Myers. They could be piching for a job, including 44-year-old Tim Wakefield.
Sean McAdam, on his debut with 98.5 The Sports Hub, told Gresh and Zolak he does not see any way Wakefield gets cut though, since he provides depth as both a starter and reliever.
Okajima, who has been the lefty out of the Red Sox bullpen since 2007, will get another chance to show his stuff against major leauge talent on Friday, but will also be joined by the man vying for his job, Dennys Reyes. Reyes is an interesting case, since he can opt-out of his minor league deal with the Red Sox this weekend. His impressive spring, 1.13 ERA and eight strikeouts in eight innings, could make the hard decision of parting ways with Okajima a little easier for Theo Epstein and company.
No more than three spots remain in the Red Sox bullpen with seven or eight players fighting for a major league job. The Red Sox would love to have plenty of depth in the minor leagues, in case a reliever gets injured or falters early in the season. The question remains though, who would want to play in the minors waiting for a big league spot to open up?
Hopefully the Red Sox will have that answer soon.