03/27/08 7:02 PM ET
Masset, Wassermann up for final spot
Who is taken for the bullpen will be decided this weekend
By Owen Perkins / Special to MLB.com
The final question comes down to Ehren Wassermann and Nick Masset for a spot in the Sox bullpen. Wassermann has had a solid spring, throwing 7 1/3 innings in seven outings and posting a 3.68 ERA with six strikeouts against one walk. Wassermann pitched in a Minor League game Thursday morning, so he could get a wisdom tooth pulled in the afternoon before the team heads on to Oklahoma City for an exhibition game with the Rangers on Friday.
"Wassermann looked good again," said pitching coach Don Cooper. "Since we've met Ehren Wassermann, he's done the job. He just had another good outing out there, gave up a single to a left-handed hitter and got three ground balls. If you look at Ehren Wassermann's track record so far, ever since manager Ozzie Guillen brought him into the game, he's got it done. He's an asset and he gets ground balls."
While that may sound like an endorsement from Cooper, the matter is complicated by the fact that Wassermann still has an option left, while Masset does not.
Masset started the game against the D-backs on Thursday, allowing six runs (five earned) on seven hits and four walks. The outing closed a tough Cactus League season for Masset, who tossed 21 2/3 innings in seven games -- five of which were starts -- and posted an ERA of 7.06.
"I wouldn't say that it hurt him, but I was a little disappointed about the outing today," Guillen said. "A good outing would have made it tougher, but we have to wait and see exactly what we need. Every time you have a bad outing late in Spring Training, it can hurt. Every time you have a good outing, it opens people's eyes. We should make that decision in the next couple days."
While Masset and Wassermann remain uncertain of where their tickets will get punched after Saturday's Civil Rights Game against the Mets in Memphis, Tenn., Wassermann was not complaining.
"I hear from my friends and family about every day, 'Where are you going? Where are you going?'" he admitted Thursday. "It's a little tough, but I get to break with the team at least from here, so that's fun."
As if they didn't have enough competition for the spot in the 'pen, Wassermann and Masset upped the ante with medical issues Thursday. Wassermann couldn't confirm the number of wisdom teeth scheduled to be pulled Thursday afternoon, but he put the number "between one and three," with a stated preference to go low.
Masset almost upstaged him when a hard grounder ricocheted off his right hand in the top of the fourth inning. He was able to continue pitching, sandwiching a couple of popups around a walk to get out of the inning.
Although neither pitcher is likely to pitch in the two remaining exhibition games, Wassermann's dental situation could actually play into the decision. Guillen stressed that the club didn't want to rush the decision.
"We have to wait and see which one we can use for Opening Day," Guillen said. "I don't know how Wassermann's going to react from the dental problems, and then we'll make the decision."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.