BOSTON -- Hours after the Red Sox announced that Wednesday's rained-out game will be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader Thursday, the Tampa Bay Rays still claimed that no such thing was agreed upon.
Rays second baseman and acting player representative Ben Zobrist told reporters that the Red Sox announcement of a Thursday doubleheader was premature as the Rays players were still hoping to avoid playing two, citing "practical alternatives." However, in the Red Sox clubhouse, the beat still went on as manager John Farrell discussed the team's reasoning for not pushing the makeup game back to when the Rays return to Fenway Park for a May 30 -- June 1 series.
"We would then be in a 38 games in 38 days [stretch]," Farrell said. "Logistically they're here and we've got the ability to play two tomorrow based on the forecast."
The Red Sox have stretches of 16 and 20 consecutive games played separated by an off day June 5 as part of a grueling schedule that has them traveling to Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit and Baltimore mixed between several homestands. Despite complaints coming from the Rays' side, Farrell believes that his team is in the right.
"I think there's a professional courtesy that goes on with scheduling and challenges that both teams face," Farrell said. "You look at common off days and the next time they're in town. All those things go into it."
As a result of Thursday's doubleheader, Farrell said that starters Jake Peavy and Felix Doubront will switch places in the rotation, with Peavy pitching the day game and Doubront pitching the nightcap. The Rays are still expected to send Chris Archer and Cesar Ramos to the mound for the two games, although they have yet to announce who will pitch in what game.
"Personal preference," Farrell said of the pitching swap. "Maybe a little bit more of a known commodity as far as dependability of getting deeper in a game [with Peavy]."
Peavy has pitched at least six innings in four of his five starts this year, including a win in his last start against the Toronto Blue Jays where he went seven innings. On the other hand, Doubront has made it past six innings just twice in his five starts while struggling to a 1-3 record. In his last start against the New York Yankees, Doubront lasted only 2 2/3 innings for the second time this season, allowing seven runs (three earned) on six hits.
"There's been some games where [Doubront's] pitched very well for us, even in this last month," Farrell said. "He's going to keep getting the ball. We've got to do what we can to have those in-game adjustments happen a little more readily. The work he's following, the routine he's following, all that remains to be consistent start to start."
As part of a new rule in major league baseball, the Red Sox and Rays will be able to take advantage of a 26th roster spot for Game 2 on Thursday night. Last year, an extra roster spot was not available to either team as part of a next-day, day-night doubleheader due to travel considerations regarding the location of minor league clubs of the visiting team. With the rule change, Farrell expects to bring up a pitcher; however, no move needs to be announced until in between game one and game two.
Fans with tickets to Wednesday's game will be able to attend Thursday's day game and will still receive their Dustin Pedroia bobbleheads as part of a promotion that was planned for Wednesday night. Bobbleheads will be given to all those in attendance Thursday afternoon.
The belief in the Rays clubhouse was that part of the reason the Red Sox wanted to play two on Thursday was because of the bobbleheads. Logistically, where were the Red Sox supposed to store over 30,000 Dustin Pedroia bobbleheads for more than a month?