Matsuzaka is still a long way from being ready for the games that count and will likely start the season on the DL. And the happiest person in that clubhouse will be Clay Buchholz, who will gladly take that fifth spot in the starting rotation, at least for the time being.
The soon-to-be 34-year-old righty who relieved Dice-K to get his first save of the spring yesterday, Atchison has been under the radar for much of training camp, but shouldn't be for long. Though one shouldn't put too much stock in ST numbers, Atchison's 1.86 ERA in eight relief outings stands out for me and could be a big reason why he will make the Opening Day roster, while the likes Boof Bonser and Junichi Tazawa won't.
Last pitching in the majors with San Francisco in 2007, Atchison actually signed a minor league deal with the Sox after that season but went with better opportunities in Japan the next two years. Epstein never took his eye off this fastball/slider pitcher, though. After seeing him rack up a solid a 2.77 ERA in his short career pitching in highly competitive baseball games in Japan, the Sox took a can't-lose chance on the pitcher as soon as this past offseason's winter meetings got underway, signing him to a one-year deal for just $420,000. In 53 career appearances in the majors over three seasons, his ERA is a respectable 4.10.
Since we know what to expect from most members of the 2010 Red Sox, I'm willing to say Scott Atchison is poised to be one of Boston's most surprising success stories of the early season, the way Ramon S. Ramirez was in 2009 (until his second half dip). With Jonathan Papelbon, Okajima, flame thrower Daniel Bard, Manny Delcarmen, Ramirez, and Atchison, the Sox have a top notch bullpen to go with one of the deepest starting staffs in baseball. Let the games begin already!