Schedule sets up nicely for Kottaras

Schedule sets up nicely for Kottaras

MINNEAPOLIS -- With a day game scheduled for Thursday and Tim Wakefield's rotation turn coming up on Friday, Red Sox manager Terry Francona started catcher George Kottaras on Wednesday against the Twins.

Kottaras will also spell starter Jason Varitek and catch Wakefield on Friday.

"Anybody that's catching that many innings, you'd prefer to give them the day game off," Francona said of Varitek. "But with Wake going [on Friday], it [would be] two [days off] in a row, which doesn't do [Varitek] as much good. We'll just go every other for two days. I do think it'll help [Varitek]."

Wednesday marked the first time that Kottaras has caught starter Daisuke Matsuzaka in a regular-season game.

"I've caught him in simulated games and live [batting-practice sessions] and Spring Training," Kottaras said. "I kind of have a feel for his pitches. I was talking to 'Tek, how he likes to approach the situations, just give myself a little better idea of what to expect."

Matsuzaka is certainly a unique pitcher to catch. He has a broad arsenal and likes to call his own game.

"That's something I'm going to have to talk to him [about]," Kottaras said a few hours before Wednesday's game. "I went over the hitters with [pitching] coach [John] Farrell and 'Tek, and I want to try to put a game plan together."

"Dice-K knows how he wants to pitch, so he's not going to have a problem shaking George off," Francona said. "Dice-K throws like he's supposed to; we're going to be OK."

Francona paused and added: "I don't know if it's what pitch Dice-K throws, I think it's where he throws it."

Kottaras, Wakefield's regular catcher, will have plenty of additional pitches to work with Wednesday rather than a steady diet of knuckleballs on Friday.

"Having options is good, just trying to keep a hitter off their toes," Kottaras said. "I'm going to try to get a feel for what Dice-K has going for him tonight."

Thor Nystrom is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.