ST. PETERSBURG -- Thanks to a right shoulder that is a bit "achy" at the moment, Red Sox reliever Mike Timlin will again rest on Sunday with hopes of returning to his post in the bullpen for Tuesday night's contest at Fenway Park against the Orioles. Timlin last pitched on Monday against Cleveland, at which point he extended his scoreless-innings streak to 16, the longest of his career. "That's one of the reasons we wanted to take some time," said Timlin. "I'm throwing the ball well, and I want to continue doing that. It was a little bit achy, so we just decided to kind of lay off, give it some time off so it doesn't flare up and go back to where we were."
After starting the season on the disabled list with a strained left oblique, Timlin went back to the DL on May 3 with right shoulder tendinitis. However, he doesn't think his problems at the moment are related to much more than the fact he's 41 years old and has 988 career appearances under his belt. "As much as no one likes to admit it, especially me, I'm getting older," said Timlin. "I don't rebound as fast as I would like to rebound. There's times I need a little bit more time." Timlin was asked if he's more mature at this stage of his career about letting the team know when he needs a rest. "I didn't hurt like this," Timlin said dryly. Timlin's main concern is not to jeopardize himself or his team. "This is a team concept," Timlin said. "This is not a sprint. If I am able to take some rest in the middle of the race so I can finish, we'll do that." Mirabelli and Matsuzaka: On the heels of Saturday's 12-inning night contest, it was hardly surprising to see manager Terry Francona insert Doug Mirabelli into Sunday afternoon's lineup in place of captain Jason Varitek. It was a bit of a crash course, however, as Mirabelli had never caught Matsuzaka in a game situation before, not even in Spring Training. "During Spring Training, we have everybody rotate with everybody, but 'Tek caught the majority of Dice-K's [side sessions] just because we tried to [increase] their familiarity," Francona said. "It's not surprising that this happens once or twice a year. It's actually, probably in the long run, good. Jason and I were talking about that last night after the game. It forces you to do something that ends up being good." Francona had little doubt that Mirabelli would be able to successfully tap into Varitek's knowledge of Matsuzaka. "They talk all day every day," Francona said. "There won't be a problem there." Check that: Did David Ortiz really break his bat on Saturday night without making contact? "On a check swing? He sure did," said Francona. "They were trying to get a swing, that's what they were conferring about between innings. And it's interesting because he didn't swing. But the bat head ended up breaking right in half. It was weird." Did Francona ever do such a thing during his playing career? "That would not be on my resume," Francona said. "Remember a guy named Glenn Bragg? He used to do that. He used to break it on his shoulder. He used to pad his shoulder and the head would hit his shoulder and just snap. He was so strong." Bullpen usage: Even after deploying five relievers on Saturday and being without Timlin, Francona was pretty confident he'd have enough manpower in his bullpen for Sunday's game. Jonathan Papelbon only threw 13 pitches, while Hideki Okajima threw 10. Manny Delcarmen didn't pitch on Saturday after going two innings on Friday. Julian Tavarez faced just one batter. In addition to Timlin, the one pitcher who was sure not to be available was Kyle Snyder, who pitched the last two days, including two innings to get the win on Saturday. On deck: Right-hander Josh Beckett (13-4, 3.27 ERA) will oppose left-hander Erik Bedard (10-4, 3.05 ERA) in Tuesday's opener of a three-game series between the Red Sox and Orioles at Fenway Park. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.