Dice-K apparently has some unspecified “weakness” in his arm or shoulder, and according to pitching coach John Farrell he will soon go on a program to strengthen it. I think Dice-K himself realized he just didn’t have it this year – no quality starts in 2009 – and had to find a way out. After talking with Francona, this was it and quite frankly, it’s a “weak” reason to shut him down, since he’s not really injured. But I welcome it. The best news that his (second) DL stint ends talk of trading Brad Penny out of town (at least for now) or sending down a young bullpen arm like Daniel Bard to make room for Smoltz, who will practically replace Dice-K in the rotation for the time being.
Nick Green, who is on his fifth team in his fifth season in the majors, has never been an everyday player and before this season, never started more than 10 games at shortstop, having spent a majority of his career at second base. But with Julio Lugo not getting the job done defensively at short and Jed Lowrie still rehabbing from his early season wrist injury, Green’s versatility came into good use and he has taken full advantage of it.
Defensively, Green has so far started in a career-high 41 games at short in 2009 and though he’s made nine errors there, most came early on and he has since become a reliable infielder – no errors in his few games at second or third base as well.
Offensively, Green has surprisingly been a solid bat in the nine spot for much of the year, batting .293 through June 21. And his production has steadily increased as the season has gone on. After hitting .275 with seven RBIs in April, this career .250 hitter batted .321 for the month of May, knocking in eight runs, while with eight days to go in June, he’s already driven in 10 runs — including Sunday’s game-winning homer against one of his former teams, the Atlanta Braves, in the bottom of the ninth inning.