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Strong outing by Wakefield could jeopardize Penny

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff  August 26, 2009 03:21 PM

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With Billy Wagner expected to be placed on the Red Sox roster tomorrow, there's no obvious corresponding move to be made unless someone is suffering from a currently undisclosed injury.

So who's in jeopardy? Perhaps Brad Penny.

Penny told a White Sox pitcher this afternoon that he thinks he will be released.

The burly righthander, who has been taken out of the rotation after a series of subpar starts, could be at risk to be designated for assignment. But there are still questions to be answered, especially tonight when Tim Wakefield makes his much anticipated return. If Wakefield pitches well and his calf and back are not issues, then there is no chance the Sox would put Wakefield back on the disabled list. But if he struggles to run on his calf, there's a good chance Wakefield would have to go back on the DL.

The Sox are expecting Daisuke Matsuzaka to return to the major league roster by Sept. 8 at the earliest. The Sox also have Paul Byrd in Pawtucket, and will be a Sept. 1 callup.

Penny has certainly struggled badly. Would the Sox cut ties with him? The next 24 hours should provide the answer.

The focus for now, though, is on Wakefield.

"I think we hope he'll pitch with health. If he does that, then we'll take the results," Sox manager Terry Francona said. "We all think he's ready to pitch and pitch effectively and certainly we hope if he's asked to field his position he will and there won't be any repercussions. We'll keep an eye on him in between innings. If that thing [calf] tightens up we'll take the appropriate measures."

Is Wakefield on a short leash tonight?

"After a guy hasn't pitched for a while I'm not sure you're going to see him throw 130 pitches. At the same time if he's pitching well -- he threw 5.2 innings in Triple A -- so it's not like he hasn't thrown either," Francona said.

Will teams attempt to bunt against him?

"I think you have to think a little bit past that," Francona said. "If we play the corners a little bit tighter we certainly can. The other thing too is if Jim Thome wants to start bunting? Good. Paul Konerko, if he wants to bunt, go ahead. I can name about four other guys.

"Now again, all bets are off when you're on the field. He may have to cover his position and we have to be aware of that and make adjustments. At the same time, they're not going to have 27 guys bunt."

The other main issue tonight is Victor Martinez's debut catching Wakefield. It will mark the first time Martinez has caught a knuckleballer. He had been assigned to catch Wakefield in the All-Star game but Wakefield did not get to pitch

"He's caught two of his sides and worked with Tuckster (catching coach Gary Tuck), " Francona said. "This will be a first and hopefully we won't see the back of Victor but more the front. The other thing too, its not April. if we have some rough spots we'll get through it."

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