July 2011

Tick tock … Tick tock

Here we are, t-minus three hours until today’s non-waiver trade deadline. There have been no splashes coming from Yawkey Way, other than the trade that almost happened but didn’t.

The Red Sox, as you’ve probably heard by now, we’re close to trading Lars Anderson and a player to be named to the Oakland A’s for oft-injured Rich Harden. But after reviewing Harden’s medical records, Boston’s medical staff was left unconvinced Harden could make it through the rest of the season healthy. It sounds like they asked for some contingencies, perhaps lessening the impact of a second player — or taking out a second player entirely — if Harden had health issues in his time with Boston.

From there, things digressed and things fell apart. Now the Red Sox are trying to find something to supplement their pitching staff. Ubaldo Jimenez is off to the Indians, assuming he passes his physical. Hiroki Kuroda decided he didn’t want to be traded.

As Epstein and his staff worked the phones in the final hours leading up to the deadline, manager Terry Francona got ready for a game against the White Sox.

The game will be in progress when the buzzer sounds off at the end of the deadline.

“What I expect to happen is what always happens: [Theo will]  work his rear end off, and if something makes sense to him, he’ll do it,” Francona said. “If it doesn’t make sense, he won’t. I’ve got a lot of confidence in his ability to make good decisions. It’s an exciting time. It’s exciting for everything. You look up at the TV and you see all kinds of guys — one guy is warming up, one guy is not warming up, he’s pitching, he’s not pitching, he’s in Cleveland. There’s all kinds of [stuff] flying around. I’ve got a lot of confidence in his ability to do what’s right for the organization.”

Wake goes for 200

Big night for the Red Sox tonight in Chicago, as venerable knuckleballer Tim Wakefield goes after career win No. 200.

You might never see a story like this again. Just think, a position player who seemed to be going nowhere in the Minors, Wakefield liked to horse around with a knuckleball during practice. To keep his career going, Wakefield transferred that knuckleball into a savior, developing well enough in the Minors to get called up by the Pirates. Not only did Wakefield have smashing success at the outset of his 1992 debut, but he starred in the NLCS, nearly getting the Buccos to the World Series.

But two years later, Wakefield was down on his luck again. His knuckleball wasn’t doing what he wanted it to, and he did not throw a single pitch in the Major Leagues in 1994.

By the spring of 1995, the Pirates no longer had any interest in having Wakefield be a part of their franchise. They released him. Dan Duquette, who loved a reclamation project as much as anyone, decided to sign Wakefield. He made four starts for Pawtucket before getting a chance with the Red Sox.

What did Wakefield do with that shot in 1995? Oh, not much. He just got off to a 14-1 start, and helped lead the Red Sox to the division title. He has been a vital part of this team ever since, be it as a starter, a reliever or the insurance policy he started this season as.

Wakefield has become prominent again in 2011, not only because the Red Sox have been hurt by several injuries in their rotation, but because of the impressive milestone he chases. If Wakefield can get the win tonight, he will become the 89th man in the modern history of the game — since 1901 — to reach 200.

At the age of 44, Wakefield is holding down a rotation spot for one of the best teams in the Major Leagues.  He is seven wins away from tying two guys you might have heard of — Cy Young and Roger Clemens — as the all-time winningest Red Sox pitcher.

And this doesn’t even speak of Wakefield’s role in the community, where he has been a pillar, and in the clubhouse, where he has been a class act. It should be a fun Friday night watching to see Wakefield go after 200.

Jenks to the DL; Buchholz waiting for more progress

In an alarming development,  Bobby Jenks went to the DL today for the third time this season. The injury? The same as the last one.

“Bobby experienced pain in his left mid back area when he was warming up last night, similar to the past injury,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “He’s going to fly back to Boston today and we’ll get him checked over the weekend.”

The Red Sox have called up lefty reliever Randy Williams from Pawtucket to take the spot of Jenks on the roster.

Meanwhile, Clay Buchholz felt a little progress when he threw yesterday, but he knows that his back is still not fully healed.

“Obviously I want to be pitching, I want to help the team in any way I can,” Buchholz said. “Me going out there not 100 percent, or not 80 percent, I don’t think is going to help the team any. I think if I rush back into it, it will be something that will be here for the rest of the season and I don’t want that. I’d rather be ready to pitch at 100 percent and I feel like that’s the way that I can help this team win.”

Buchholz did feel a little better when he played catch yesterday.

“It definitely did,” Buchholz said. “Went out there, just basically wanted to play catch at 50 percent and I actually went a little bit harder than that because I didn’t feel anything like I thought I was going to. Throwing has never really been the issue. It’s been pitching when throwing off the mound. I don’t think I’m at that point yet but yesterday was a step in the right direction for sure.”

Ortiz to appeal suspension

David Ortiz has just received a four-game suspension for his actions in an altercation with Orioles righty Kevin Gregg. He is expected to appeal the suspension, according to a source, so he will be on the field Friday night when the Red Sox open their three-game set against the Rays.

Ortiz at peace as he awaits discipline

David Ortiz, who started at DH for the AL on Tuesday night, knows that discipline is coming shortly for his altercation with Orioles pitcher Kevin Gregg last Friday at Fenway.

MLB exec Joe Torre hinted today that the punishment could be handed out as early as Thursday, the day before the Red Sox open their second half at Tropicana Field against the Rays.

While missing time is the last thing Ortiz wants to do while his team chases a postseason berth, he seems to know it’s coming.

“I know there’s going to be some discipline going on with myself,” Ortiz said. “Like I say, things get out of hand and I don’t feel like I was the one who started this so we’ll see.”

Ortiz thinks the film and the reports filled out by the umpires will speak for themselves.

“They go through all the video and stuff like that,” Ortiz said. “There’s not too much you have to say. Like I say, it’s a situation that got out of hand and we’ll see – we’ll see how it goes.”

Will Ortiz definitely appeal?

“It all depends what they come with. You can’t do nothing until you see what’s on the table,” he said.

The Red Sox All-Stars will travel home on Tuesday and have a day off on Wednesday. The team will fly to Tampa on Thursday and workout at Tropicana Field at 6 p.m. ET.

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