Dice-K cleared to face Rockies on Thursday
Red Sox righty tosses three-inning simulated game Saturday
BOSTON -- Thanks to a successful three-inning simulated game on Saturday at Fenway Park, right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka will make his return to the starting rotation Thursday against the Rockies at Coors Field.
During the session, Matsuzaka threw 49 pitches against hitters from the Independent League Brockton Rox.
"He felt really good and checked out fine," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona.
Cause for concern over Matsuzaka's health came last Saturday, when he was scratched from a start against the Phillies due to a right forearm strain and placed on the disabled list.
Matsuzaka has chosen to look at his quick time on the DL as a brief rest, which he said has allowed him to be physically ready to make that next start.
"The decision that came from the coaching staff, or our decision came with my best interests in mind, and for that I am very appreciative to the coaching staff," Matsuzaka said through his interpreter. "And I think that's all the more reason that I'd really like to do well in my next outing."
Sox hope Drew can return Tuesday
BOSTON -- J.D. Drew spent his Saturday morning in an MRI tube, getting his right hamstring checked out. The results were encouraging, and Boston's starting right fielder is confident he can avoid becoming the third member of the projected starting outfield to be placed on the disabled list this season.
"Very hopeful," said Drew. "I think we can control it. I was kind of thinking, 'Let's don't worry about the picture, let's just give it a couple of days and see how it feels.' But I think for the peace of mind for everybody, especially [manager] Terry [Francona], we've been very limited in the outfield with [Mike] Cameron and [Jacoby] Ellsbury and everybody on the DL, [Jeremy] Hermida on the DL, so they just kind of want some sure answers to make sure it's not going to be lingering for a week and a half, two weeks."
Though Cameron is back on the active roster, he didn't play Saturday because Francona has been trying to give him a rest when it makes sense. With Saturday being a day game after a night game, this was one of those occasions.
The Red Sox went with Daniel Nava in left, Darnell McDonald in center and Bill Hall in right.
Drew limped off the field in the third inning Friday, after making an inning-ending catch on a Manny Ramirez liner.
"It was just a little tight before the game [Friday]," said Drew. "Been a little tight, but nothing major. Just one of those plays where it was kind of a perfect storm scenario. I had to lean in, the leg came forward and the hamstring grabbed really good. I don't think I've done an extreme amount of damage."
The Red Sox hope Drew can return by Tuesday night's series opener against the Rockies in Denver.
Doubront back to Triple-A; Manuel up
BOSTON -- Less than 24 hours after earning the win in his first Major League start, lefty Felix Doubront was optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket. That had been planned all along, as Doubront was filling in for Daisuke Matsuzaka, who will return from a precautionary disabled list stint and pitch on Thursday against the Rockies.
To replace Doubront, the Red Sox purchased the contract of right-hander Robert Manuel from Pawtucket. Manuel, 26, was 4-1 with a 0.98 ERA in 26 appearances at Triple-A. The Red Sox claimed him off waivers from the Mariners on Nov. 20, 2009.
"His numbers are out of sight," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "I think he's got a sub-1 ERA or something. He's locating his fastball to both sides of the plate, keeping it down, and he's been tremendous. Not overpowering. He's a kid where you have that last meeting in Spring Training, you say, 'Hey kid, go down and do good and if there's a need, we'll call you up.' Well, there's a need and he gets called up. It's happened a lot but everybody that's come has helped us. Now it will be his turn."
Doubront certainly did his part, giving up three earned runs over five-plus innings to beat the Dodgers on Friday night.
"There's a lot of people spending a lot of time and effort to make sure that when guys like Felix get here, that they know how to act, they know how to pitch, they know how to play," said Francona. "Our organization has done a really good job of that. We're really fortunate. Again, on a night that a Felix Doubront pitches, it would be nice if the player development people could do the press conference [after the game] because they're the ones that deserve [the credit]."
Fake umps raising money for charity
BOSTON -- While umpire Ted Barrett may have been behind third base for Saturday's Dodgers-Red Sox game, it became impossible for him to miss two men sitting directly behind home plate wearing what he was wearing.
The men, Tim Williams and Joe Farrell, dressed as fake umpires, could be seen in the first row behind home plate at Fenway signing autographs and taking pictures with fans before the game.
"When they are behind the plate we can usually see them and try and give a glance every one in a while. I get a kick out of watching their shtick," Barrett said. "They look and sound legit and try and mimic what we do."
Williams and Farrell received national attention in 2009 when they dressed up in full Major League umpire outfits, sitting in the first row behind home plate and mimicking umpires calls on the field. While both men planned to retire their act after the 2009 season, at the request of umpires and their UMPS CARE Charities, they decided to partake in a four game road trip entitled "Four Games for Bears."
From Thursday through Sunday, with their last stop Sunday in Toronto, both men will raise money for the Major League Baseball Umpires children's hospital program that brings Build-A-Bear Workshops to the bedside of children with cancer and other illnesses.
"We enjoyed it a lot last year and came back out of retirement this year for the charity angle," said Williams.
Thus far, the fake umpires have raised over $7,000 beforehand and will pledge $10 to the charity for every strikeout recorded in all four games. Williams and Farrell are also covering costs in all four cities: Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Boston and their hometown of Toronto.
"For these guys to get out and give their own time and energy," Barrett said. "I am really touched that they would do that. This is our charity and they decided to get involved with it."
Both Williams and Farrell understand that doing this road trip only a few times a year makes it more entertaining and interesting for fans and people helping to raise money for UMPS CARE charities.
"It is a novelty act, so we know that if we were doing it 40 times a year in the same stadium that it would not be the same," Williams said. "If we had a charity angle, then we would potentially do it next year, but as of right now, you won't see us for a while past the Toronto game."
Even if the fake umpires do not dress up and raise money for charity during the 2011 season, both have enjoyed the ride they have been on the past two baseball seasons.
"We are just huge baseball fans. We get great seats, get to have fun like this, be umpires and raise money for charity," Farrell said. "What is better than that?"
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Quinn Roberts is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.