1 ’Tek support behind the plate
Jason Varitek is going to catch his first game of the season this weekend in Kansas City, with the Red Sox playing a day game Sunday after a night game Saturday. Josh Beckett, who clearly works better with Varitek catching him, pitches Saturday and Clay Buchholz, who excelled with Victor Martinez, goes Sunday. With Zack Greinke going for the Royals Saturday, don’t be surprised if Terry Francona uses the opportunity not only to make his pitchers happy, but give David Ortiz a break.
2 Buchholz’s season debut Sunday
Clay Buchholz finally makes his season debut Sunday, having gone nine days without pitching in a real game. Buchholz, who threw a simulated game to teammates Bill Hall, Jeremy Hermida and Varitek on Wednesday, had a rough spring training after his strong finish to the 2009 season.
As has been the case throughout his career, Buchholz has struggled to keep control with men on base. Buchholz may only get a few starts to convince Francona and Theo Epstein that he belongs, with Daisuke Matsuzaka working his way back.
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3 Is there a problem with the bullpen?
All the talk about the strength of the rotation will be meaningless if the bullpen cannot protect their leads. The Yankees scored five of their nine runs Tuesday and Wednesday from the seventh on, and outside of Daniel Bard, none of the relievers have exactly been great.
Jonathan Papelbon’s Wednesday implosion is particularly worrisome after his high-wire acts in 2009. With Clay Buchholz not likely to go deep Sunday, the pen will have to finally be mighty.