10/07/09 10:19 PM ET
Byrd to 'pen, Delcarmen inactive in ALDS
Club will wait until Thursday before deciding on Baldelli
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
The one hold-up in finalizing the roster is the status of outfielder Rocco Baldelli, who is still recovering from a left hip flexor strain sustained on Friday.
Six of Byrd's seven outings for the Red Sox this season came as a starter, but he can provide length in case one of the other starters gets in trouble or is injured. Game 2 starter Josh Beckett recently had a bout with back spasms, so Byrd's presence could give Boston some additional depth if the ace has a setback.
"I think it needs to be a factor," Francona said. "The one way you can get derailed is if you can't cover an accident. You'd like to have a move for every situation. I think it's more realistic to cover your pitching. If something happens bad, maybe you have a bad game, but it doesn't mean the series is over."
Byrd was out of the Major Leagues until early August, when the Red Sox, dealing with pitching problems at the time, signed him to a Minor League deal. The 38-year-old veteran made his comeback to the Majors on Aug. 30, firing six shutout innings in a win over the Blue Jays.
"I may be the 'Comeback Postseason Roster Player of the Year," quipped Byrd. "Or, 'The Least Likely Player To Make the Postseason Roster.' I would wear that with pride."
"For me, my whole goal was to come back and help the team," Byrd said. "I'm playing for all the right reasons. I want a ring. I want to help the team. And that's it. Without trying to sound like a preacher, I've prayed a lot about this and I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to come back and do this. Who takes the amount of time off, is throwing to the kids and not necessarily training to come back and then gets the chance and is here."
Delcarmen has struggled mightily of late, posting a 7.27 ERA in 29 games after the All-Star break. But a car accident on Saturday, which left Delcarmen with some recurring back and neck stiffness for a couple of days, was the last blow that determined he wouldn't be a participant against the Angels.
"We just talked to Manny," Francona said. "We're going to not activate him for this series. He actually threw pretty well yesterday. He'll be down today, he'll throw again tomorrow. I just think that all of this happened, it's probably not in his best interest. I think we were probably rushing it a little bit. So Byrd will be in our bullpen. Hopefully they'll be a time where we'll keep playing and we can have Manny back, but more at full strength."
Because Baldelli's right-handed bat could serve an important role against Los Angeles lefties Scott Kazmir and Joe Saunders for Games 3 and 4 in Boston, the Red Sox want to give his left hip flexor strain as much time as possible to heal before determining his availability.
"We just talked to him a little bit," Francona said. "He's feeling, I'd say, minimally better. So we'll get up and have [trainer Paul Lessard] go down there and talk to him [on Thursday morning] and then he'll give us a call. We'll use our time and we'll see."
If Baldelli can't go, Brian Anderson will likely get his roster spot. J.D. Drew is Boston's starting right fielder, but Baldelli plays against the majority of left-handers.
What would have to happen for Baldelli to be on the roster?
"He has to have a legitimate chance to help us," Francona said. "That's basically what it is. He's kind of an important bat, especially in this series. But we're not going to do something that's unfair to him. Since we have the time, we'll wait. That just seems like it makes sense."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.