Updating an ongoing story, Jayson Stark, of ESPN.com, reports Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona said starting pitcher Josh Beckett (back) will not travel with the team to Japan for their opening series of the regular season.
Beckett has been fighting this back injury since the start of spring training, so it's not much of a surprise that he will not travel to pitch on opening day. Beckett said he was feeling better, but Francona said it was unlikely that Beckett would be able to pitch anyway because of the back issues. Beckett has yet to pitch in a real spring training game this season.
For the extreme short term fantasy-wise, it is unclear who will start opening day for the World Champions. The logical choice would be starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, but he may not travel with the team to Japan because his wife is expected to have a baby around the same time. The team is hoping that he will be able to travel to Japan before the first game. If Matsuzaka is not able to make the trip, either starting pitcher Tim Wakefield or starting pitcher Jon Lester will take the ball on opening day. Wakefield has pitched nine innings during spring training and has only allowed two runs and seven hits for a 2.00 ERA. Lester has pitched eight innings and has allowed six runs and eight hits in his outings.
Keep an eye on this situation as it would have some serious fantasy consequences if it worsens, but for the time being, Beckett should still be expected to start the season on time (although maybe not in Japan). He has been relatively healthy for the past three years, averaging 31 starts per year with only blister problems being an injury worry.
This could increase the fantasy value of starting pitcher Clay Buchholz, who would seemingly have a roster spot locked down with Beckett's injury and pitcher Curt Schilling (shoulder) out. It could also help starting pitcher Bartolo Colon, who is trying to make a comeback in the Red Sox's starting rotation. Neither player's value increases unless Beckett's back problems become much worse, which doesn't appear to be a concern at this stage. Downgrade Beckett only to the slightest degree on your cheat sheets: Such news may help you grab him a round later than usual.
About Bryce McRae
Bryce McRae is a Managing Editor with KFFL and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1999. He joined KFFL as a volunteer writer in March 2005 before becoming a Hot off the Wire Analyst in March 2006. He began working in his current capacity in September 2008. His work has appeared on fantasy sports sites such as Yahoo! and CBS Sportsline as well as in print. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a B.A. in History and U.S. Studies.
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