With Dice-K back, Sox shuffle rotation

With Dice-K back, Sox shuffle rotation

PHILADELPHIA -- When the Red Sox welcome Daisuke Matsuzaka back into the rotation on Saturday against the Cardinals, they will do it in a fashion that enables ace Josh Beckett to get a little extra rest.

Saturday would have been Beckett's day to pitch. And instead of simply moving him to Sunday in order to pave way for Matsuzaka, the Red Sox will hold Beckett out until Monday against the D-backs.

Thanks to an off-day on Thursday, Jon Lester, who pitched Tuesday night against the Phillies, can simply take the ball on Sunday instead of Beckett.

Manager Terry Francona emphasized that Beckett is experiencing no physical difficulty and that this is nothing more than a pre-planned maintenance break.

"We've been kind of talking about building a little rest," Francona said. "Beckett has known all along. We just needed to wait until Dice-K came through his start to kind of make it official. But he's known that we've wanted to buy him a couple of days."

Beckett is coming off his best start of the season. On Sunday against the Reds, Beckett fired seven shutout innings.

The righty is 7-4 with a 3.87 ERA in 13 starts.

"Josh is fine," Francona said. "We really think that [the extra rest] helps. I think that he believes it, or we probably wouldn't do it. Just give him a couple of days to regroup and then get back in the routine but it seems to help."

As for Matsuzaka, the Red Sox similarly hope that the break he had while recovering from a right rotator cuff strain will be of similar benefit down the road.Francona even noted the two starts Beckett missed in May 2007 with an avulsion helping him be strong for October.

"[Matsuzaka is] 8-0," said Francona. [But] we are just adamant with all our pitchers that we want them to be healthy and productive. I think they go hand in hand. And when one starts to go, you can get yourself into a rut that we don't want to let those guys get into. He did a good job with this. Hopefully this will be that thing that kind of happened to Beckett last year. It happened, so take advantage of it."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.