Red Sox option Tazawa to rookie ball

Red Sox option Tazawa to rookie ball

BOSTON -- Right-hander Junichi Tazawa was optioned back to the Minor Leagues before Saturday's game against the Blue Jays, but just for a few days.

In fact, Tazawa was sent to the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Red Sox, which means he is eligible to be back in the Major Leagues on Tuesday, when Boston opens a three-game series at Tampa Bay. The Gulf Coast League season ends on Monday.

Why was Tazawa sent down in the first place? The Red Sox wanted to make sure they were covered in the bullpen for Saturday's game, so they recalled right-hander Marcus McBeth from Triple-A Pawtucket.

McBeth was optioned right back to the Minors after the game and will be replaced on the roster by veteran Paul Byrd, who will start Sunday's game against the Blue Jays, marking his first Major League action since last season.

As for Tazawa, he will make his next start in the rotation on either Friday or Saturday at Chicago. With an off-day on Monday, Red Sox manager Terry Francona had the flexibility to line up Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz for the three-game series at Tropicana Field against the Rays, which starts Tuesday. Tazawa had originally been on schedule to pitch Wednesday.

Tazawa has had mixed results since being promoted to the Major Leagues on Aug. 7. In five games, four of them starts, he is 2-3 with a 6.65 ERA.

But considering the circumstances -- the Red Sox didn't expect to rely on Tazawa until September at the earliest -- he has turned in a couple of clutch performances.

Tazawa beat the Tigers on Aug. 11, allowing four hits and one earned run over five innings. The game that sticks out, however, came on Aug. 22, when Tazawa fired six shutout innings in a 14-1 win over the Yankees.

But Tazawa was rocked by the White Sox in his last start, giving up 10 hits and nine runs over four innings.

In a Minor League move, the Red Sox acquired speedster Joey Gathright from the Orioles for a player to be named or cash considerations. Gathright was assigned to Triple-A Pawtucket. With 79 career steals in 428 Major League games, there's a chance Gathright could be added to the Major League roster in September.

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