Bobby Valentine was a guest of the Dennis & Callahan show on Wednesday morning, a day after the Red Sox moved to 39-35 on the season with a 5-1 win over the Blue Jays. Daisuke Matsuzaka did not earn a victory in the comeback win for the Sox, but allowed just a single run and six hits in 5.1 innings pitched.
"I thought his performance was better, he worked quicker, he threw more strikes with his breaking ball, he threw off-speed pitches when he was behind in the count and he challenged hitters with his fastball," said Valentine of Matsuzaka, who walked just one hitter while striking out five on Tuesday. "I don't think there's much more you can ask of a pitcher and that was a good job against a very good lineup."
With Kevin Youkilis now in Chicago, it would appear that there would be a more consistent lineup for the Sox, with Will Middlebrooks at third base and Adrian Gonzalez out of right field and exclusively at first base. Valentine was asked if the Youkilis trade makes his job easier.
"There's one less moving part, maybe even four less moving parts, depending on how many people were affected by the challenge to get everyone as much playing time as possible so they could remain sharp," Valentine said.
Gonzalez, who has struggled for most of the 2012 season, is batting .357 over his last seven games, including a two-hit game on Tuesday. Valentine was asked if the return to first base will mean increased production from Gonzalez.
"I think Adrian Gonzalez is going to have a super year for us when it's all said and done because he's a super player," Valentine said. "Regardless of where what glove he has on he's going to be a terrific player. Now that being said, I did say that he probably won't play the outfield until the World Series. So he taped up his outfield glove and wrote 'not to be opened until the World Series,' so he's not planning on going back anytime soon, that's for sure."
With Josh Beckett slated to come off the disabled list and pitch in Seattle on Saturday, Valentine mentioned on Tuesday that he is considering a six-man rotation for a short time. He expanded on the possibility of going with Beckett, Jon Lester, Aaron Cook, Matsuzaka, Franklin Morales and Felix Doubront with John Dennis and Dale Arnold on Wednesday.
"I think we can do that for this next week, yes, just keep everybody in the rotation, give the guys who have been there from the start of the season just a little break before their last start before the All-Star Break and keep everyone on the roster," Valentine said.
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