Judging by Tavarez's performance on Friday in an On-Deck Series game against the Phillies, he just might lock up a long-term spot in the rotation. Despite making his first start since rejoining the rotation on March 22, Tavarez threw 5 2/3 solid innings, giving up six hits, one earned run with two strikeouts and no walks.
Before the game, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said he wanted Tavarez to throw 75-80 pitches. He threw 69 pitches, 45 for strikes.
"It was good coming to a Major League ballpark to face [Ryan] Howard, [Chase] Utley, [Jimmy] Rollins," Tavarez said. "When you get those guys out, it's big because those guys are Major League hitters."
Francona said he was pleased with Tavarez's performance.
"He was efficient," Francona said. "He was good. He did a good job. As long as he stays in the strike zone and stays down, he's going to be like that."
Tavarez will next pitch in a simulated game on Tuesday, which is an off-day for the Red Sox.
"Just having him face some hitters is a little bit better than a side day," Francona said.
Knowing he's going to be a consistent starter is the best news Tavarez could have received.
"It's a dream come true," he said. "I'm just very happy they're counting on me."
Good experience: Some managers might not be thrilled with playing an additional two exhibition games after Spring Training.
"It's great," Francona said. "I think it's huge. Everybody feels different. The games don't count, but you're in a Major League atmosphere. You'll see a little extra bounce in their [players] step."
Healthy closer: Francona said that closer Jonathan Papelbon is recuperating nicely after stepping awkwardly on first base, while taking a toss from Joe McEwing in the ninth inning two days ago. His right ankle was initially tender.
"He's fine," Francona said. "He came early to get it worked on."
League decision: The Red Sox received a letter from Major League Baseball saying that Johnny Pesky will no longer be allowed in the dugout during games. MLB is enforcing a rule stating that only the manager and six coaches can be in the dugout during a game.
Pesky, who will turn 88 in September, is in his 55th season with the Red Sox. He's allowed to don a uniform and enter the dugout and clubhouse before games, as well as walking on the field. Once the game starts, he'll have to vacate the dugout.
"I think he's [Pesky] upset," said Francona, who was the one who informed Pesky of the league's ruling. "I think he had hurt feelings."
Pitching update: According to Francona, Daisuke Matsuzaka will throw three to four innings in Saturday's On-Deck Series game against the Phillies.
In other pitching news, Josh Beckett threw four innings and struck out six in a Minor League game in Fort Myers, Fla., while Curt Schilling had a session throwing on the side. Beckett and Schilling will travel to Kansas City on Saturday, while Tim Wakefield will pitch in a Minor League game on Sunday before leaving for Kansas City.
Power surge: The Red Sox ripped four home runs off Phillies starter Cole Hamels -- solo shots by Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew and Dustin Pedroia, as well as a two-run blast by Kevin Youkilis.
Breaking records: The Red Sox drew 131,574 fans in 17 games at City Palms Park, breaking the previous record of 128,001 in 17 dates in 2006. The club has sold out 62 consecutive Grapefruit League games since March 16, 2003. ... Catcher Doug Mirabelli will catch Wakefield on Sunday and will travel to Kansas City after the game. Mirabelli hit just .118 in Grapefruit League action and was hitless in his last 20 at-bats.
Coming up: The Red Sox will conclude the two-game On-Deck Series against the Phillies by sending Matsuzaka to the mound to oppose Philadelphia righty Adam Eaton at 1:05 p.m. ET. Matsuzaka tossed five no-hit innings in his last start, but he walked five during a 104-pitch effort.
Andy Jasner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less