Results tagged ‘ Tim Wakefield ’

Chatting with Cherington

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington took some time out of his busy schedule on Wednesday morning to talk with MLB.com about his first Spring Training in his new job. Here are some highlights from the interview.

After spending the winter building a team, what is Spring Training like? “Spring Training is the fun part, no doubt. It’s an opportunity to get back to what , I think, most of us got in the game in the first place, just to watch players play, watch the team play and see the collective work that’s been done when we get out on the field. You can start to see some things happening. Some good things, some not so good things. You react to the not so good things and try to react to them. Spring Training is a great time of year because it’s sort of the culmination of the offseason, which is typically a sort of frenetic pace. You get to now watch the game and that’s what we all want to do.”

What issues regarding the team keep you awake at night these days? “Well, the things that sort of stand out are the obvious ones. We need some guys to step up on our pitching staff. We’ve got a lot of guys here who are capable of doing that. We get to see them more. We’re optimistic because we believe we have guys that are capable of taking advantage of that opportunity. We have to see them do that. It’s march 7 – we haven’t seen enough of it yet. We’ve tried to build some depth in the outfield in the event that Carl wasn’t back at the beginning of the season and it looks like he may need a little more time. We’ll continue to look at that collection of outfielders and figure out works. As with every spring training, we’re going to cover every other team’s camp and see if there are guys available that might help us. I’d say that the primary focus is on trying to figure out who from that group of pitchers is going to step up and take advantage of the opportunity.”

What about shortstop? “We feel confident in what Aviles can do and the protection that Punto gives us. We think very highly of Iglesias and the player he’s going to be. He’s shown some good things already this spring and he’s making progress. I think I’ve said, there’s a competition. It doesn’t mean that competition is on equal footing. Some guys are going into the competition with an advantage but we’re not going to limit anyone. We’ll see how things evolve. Again, we’ll keep our eyes out but we feel confident that we have he answers here.”

How has life changed being the GM? “I guess I get recognized a little more but I don’t feel any differently, really. I’ve had the privilege of working here for a long time so I know … and growing up in new England, so  I know how passionate Red Sox fans are and that’s why this is such a great place to work and it’s such a great place to do our jobs. I’ve gotten recognized a little bit more but it’s nothing like what I saw from Theo all those years because I think the way that Theo came into the job and the success that he had – the sort of historic achievements put him on a level that no one else will or should. For me, I’m comfortable with that aspect of the job – people recognizing me more, but it doesn’t feel that different.”

Is it any different dealing with players in your new role? “I think one of the most important things I learned from Theo is that you can have a good relationship with a player and you can still make a hard decision. He did that I think as well as anybody. I’m a different person but I do think it’s possible and I think it’s important to have a good relationship with players but also to make it clear that that there are still decisions to be made and we have to make decisions that are in the best interest of the team. Some of those decisions, players won’t agree with but along the way, we can treat each other with respect and get along. Look, we’re all trying to achieve the same goal.”

Parting ways with Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek? “That was one of the most challenging aspects of the offseason really, even though in the end, it didn’t translate into anything on the field this spring. Both those guys are guys that I have a great deal of personal respect for. Their accomplishments on the field speak for themselves and certainly the organization holds in really high regard. We made a decision that we weren’t prepared to guarantee them a job on the team  and based on that, we then had a long period of conversation about what that would mean and left the door open because we wanted to give them a chance to have a say in the outcome and the final decision. But it was hard, you have guys that have left that much on the field and given that much to the organization. There were times this offseason that I had to deliver news that they didn’t want to hear. We tried to do that in as respectful a way as possible. I also know that there will always be a place for Jason and Tim in the organization and we hope that we can work with both of those guys for a long, long time.”

From the outside looking in, you seem unflappable: “I don’t think I’m unflappable. I think I probably show my emotions a little bit less than some others. When things don’t go well, it bothers me as much as anyone else. I may internalize that more than some others.  I think that being a farm director for as long as I was was good preparation for this job in the sense that what you’re trying to do is create a system that works the best for as many people as possible. It’s not ever going to be perfect for everybody. Being a farm director helped me understand that the goal is to provide the best opportunity for as many people as possible and to help as many people as possible. Within that, there are going to be things that happen that you don’t like and people that are disappointed because players are human beings. I think in that sense it’s helped me a little bit.”

Tuning out public perception, particularly when it’s negative: “Some of it we don’t have a choice but to remove ourselves from it and just focus on finding solutions, finding answers. I understand, I have a great appreciation for the importance of the attention that the team gets, whether it’s positive or negative. We wouldn’t be the Boston Red Sox and this wouldn’t be such a great place to work if that attention wasn’t there. At different times, that attention can come in different forms. Last offseason we made some really big moves and felt reall good about our team and a lot of other people did too and it didn’t end the way we wanted it to. This year, our offseason was different, the way the season ened, the attention on the team was taking on a bit of a different flavor but I think if you take one step back, and sort of look at what’s actually on the field, in hindsight, there were some questions about last year’s team and there were questions about this year’s team and questions about 29 other teams in baseball. We’ve just got to do the best we can to get this team ready and look for solutions as we need them as the spring goes on, as the season goes on.”

Your first few months working with Bobby Valentine? “It’s been good. I’ve learned a lot from him. He sees the game about as well as anyone I’ve worked with. He sees the game differently then I do. We come from different backgrounds and I think that’s helped. I see some things differently that may help him sort of gain a new perspective. Hopefully the combination of different backgrounds can help us together make decisions. He’s got a ton of energy. He’s actually got – there’s a lot of things he has in common with tito. He lives and breathes and sleeps baseball. He wants nothing more than for players to perform well and for the team to win. He has a true passion for the game. He’s a baseball lifer in eveyr sense of the word. Their styles are different. There are certain things they’re going to do differently on the field and the way they go about things but ultimately there are a lot of core elements that are similar and the end goal is certainly the same. My job has been to get to know him and work with him and hopefully complement him as well as I can and develop that relationship so that when we get into the season and go through those inevitable tough times we both know we’re in a position to rely on each other and make the tough decisions if we need to.”

Biggest things you learned from Theo? “Well as I said, really, if I could point to one thing, it’s that sense of humanity that he showed in the way that he made decisions. You could make tough decisions and do it in a respectful, humanistic way. And that was the right thing to do, — it was the right thing to do sort of on moral grounds,  but it was also  the right thing to do on professional grounds. It helped give players the security of knowing that even when there was going to be a tough decision, when there was going to be bad news delivered, it was being done with as much respect as possible and it was being done in a way that helped the team and gave guys the best chance to win possible. If I had to point to one thing, I’d say that. There’s a lot of other things he taught me. Certainly I think he knows he knows as much about evaluating players as anyone in baseball. He’s got I think a very unique combination of feel for the objective side of player analysis and the subjective side. I don’t know too many people, if anyone, who are as good at sitting dfown and watching a game and seeing a player and evaluating them subjectively and also you can look at performance history and know exactly what he’s seeing there and being able to combine those two things. There are people that can do that. There are people that are good at one or the other . they’re may be people, but no one that I know as well that can do it like he does. So I learned a lot from him in those areas. I don’t think I match him in that respect. But I certainly learned a lot about how to balance those two things.”

Dan Duquette said the other day you always wanted to be a GM. Is that true? “I think when I first got the opportunity to work in baseball – first with the Indians and then with the Red Sox, Dan gave me an opportunity to scout, which is something I wanted to have the opportunity to do. I wanted to learn how to scout. I think I got into the game wanting to be a GM but also knowing that there’s a lot to learn and I was thrilled to have a chance to work in the game. As time went on, the goal of being the GM was still there. But really it evolved more into – what’s most important to me is not the title, it’s to be part of a group that’s doing something special and has a chance to put together and be part of a winning team, a winning organization. That’s what’s most important to me. When I was offered the job in Boston, I took it as much because I wanted to be part of something special and part of a winning organization as I did because of the tittle or because this was something I aspired to. Yeah, I had that goal in mine and I was lucky to … Dan gave me a chance to scout and learn and make some mistakes and learn from mistakes both in domestic scouting and Latin America. Then when Theo came aboard, I was given opportunities by him too. I’m very lucky to be given those opportunities and get the training and experience necessary to be able to do this job now.”

How excited are you to get to Opening Day, when you start getting measured every day by wins and losses? “It’s exciting. I think we’ll be facing Justin Verlander and it’s probably going to be about 40 degrees. I don’t know if that’s something you really look forward to. But it’s exciting because I think more than anything, I know the group of guys in the clubhouse are really ready to go be the Boston Red Sox again. Another thing that Theo taught me is that nobody should be judged by one moment. No team should be judged by one moment either. It should be judged by a longer time span, a longer period of peformance and behavior. I think the Boston Red Sox are much different than Septmeber of 2011 and I think our individual players are much different than what the perceptions of September of 2011 were. I think they are motivated to go show people that. So that’s what I’m looking forward to, more than anything else.”

Red Sox remembrances of 9/11

It is a day none of us will ever forget. Here is what the Red Sox remember.

The Red Sox were in New York getting ready to face Roger Clemens the night of 9/10, but that game was rained out, enabling the team to fly to Tampa a little earlier than planned for their series that was scheduled to begin in St. Petersburg — ironically where the Sox are right now — on 9/11/01.

Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield:

“[My girlfriend and now wife Stacy]  was actually in New York with me.  She got out because we got rained out.  She got the last flight out and beat me [to Tampa] so when we got in at 4 in the morning, she was already sleeping. She was up when all this was taking place and woke me up and said, ‘hey, you need to wake up.’ I started watching it and like 10 minutes later, we saw the second plane hit and we were like, ‘oh god, something bad is happening right now.”’

“To watch stuff on television now, the documentaries about how everything unfolded and how whoever was in charge of grounding all the airplanes made the hardest, right decision anyone could have made.  Knowing it would costs the airlines millions and millions of dollars if they stopped all flights immediately, they’d have to ground the planes and all the passengers would have to switch flights. That’s when they found out about United 93. The game was meaningless [compared to what was going on] but we needed to get back playing.”

Wakefield on Ground Zero:  “In 2002, I drove by. I took a cab and jus drove by. I didn’t want to get out. in ’05, we went and opened the stock market, me, trot and somebody else, we rang the bell at the American Stock Exchange. We went to somebody’s office that overlooked Ground Zero. He was part of that whole thing. He kept telling us how the building was shaking and all that stuff.  The chaos.”

Jason Varitek was out for the remainder of 2001 with a fractured right elbow.

“Actually I didn’t arrive in Tampa. I was on the DL, I was in rehab. I actually arrived that morning to rehab when it all happened. It’s like, once you realize what happened, everybody dropped what they were doing and took off and left.”

“There’s a heightened awareness to everything that goes on around you for one. Appreciation for the people that tried to save lives and to do those things and you reach out to those people who have lost family, friends, etc., in the most tragic thing that’s ever happened here.”

Jacoby Ellsbury, now an All-Star and an MVP candidate, turned 18 years old on Sept. 11, 2001. He was a junior at Madras (Oregon) High School.

“I just remember going to school and waking up that morning and hearing something happened. At school, we turned on all the TV’s and saw everything unfold. At the beginning, I don’t think anyone really knew what was going on. But yeah, I just remember watching things unfold from Madras (ore.) High. I was on my way to school when I kind of heard everything. It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years.”

The 2001 season was basically the only year of Terry Francona’s youth or adult life that he wasn’t wearing a baseball uniform. Francona was a scout for the Indians in 2001, and was on assignment in Pittsburgh when the terrorist attacks happened. His best friend Brad Mills was also scouting for the Cubs at that time, and was in Pittsburgh, at the same hotel as Francona when everything happened.

“I was in Pittsburgh scouting and coincidentally Millsy was scouting for the Cubs. He was advancing. He was upstairs in the concierge room because he never pays for coffee. So he called me and he was like, ‘hey, you need to come up here, man. I went upstairs and I sat there with him. Kind of watched it and then rented a car and drove back to Philly because obviously there weren’t going to be games. I remember driving by Shanksville (Pennsylvania) on the turnpike. The exit was closed. I remember being glad I was with Millsy. Times like that, it’s nice to have maybe your best friend in the whole world with you.”

Francona is glad that soldiers can take some enjoyment out of being around baseball: “I hope it does. If you like baseball, I don’t know that it matters what you do. obviously I hope what we do, people get enjoyment out of it. I think it’s cool that they bring soldiers and people like that around and they honor them at the ballparks. I think everybody enjoys that. I think it’s a really neat thing. If they get some enjoyment out of what we’re doing, that’s terrific.”

Of course, perhaps nobody affiliated with the Red Sox had a more compelling 9/11 story than Trot Nixon, whose wife Kathryn gave birth to the couple’s first son on 9/11/01. Today, Chase Nixon turned 10 years old. Here is an in-depth story I did with Trot and Kathryn back in 2002.

http://boston.redsox.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20020907&content_id=123690&vkey=news_bos&fext=.jsp&c_id=bos

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.

The Buck stops here

There will be no ERA title for Clay Buchholz. His 2010 season has come to an end. The Red Sox have scratched Buchholz from Saturday’s scheduled start because of lower back stiffness.

Veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield will instead make the start, in pursuit of career win No. 194, and No. 180 with the Red Sox.

As for Buchholz, he had a tremendous season. The numbers speak for themselves — a 17-7 record, a 2.33 ERA and a .226 opponents batting average. Buchholz would have had a chacne to win the ERA title. Instead, it will go to Cy Young favorite Felix Hernandez, who is at 2.27 and won’t pitch again this year.

Back at Fenway, but not for long

The homestand is officially underway, but don’t get used to it. The Red Sox will be at Fenway for all of two games before venturing back on the road for a six-game road trip through Philly and Tampa Bay that starts on Friday.

A long night at Yankee Stadium — an hour rain delay and a four-hour game — became longer even still for the Red Sox when they had some flight issues coming home. What time did manager Terry Francona return to his residence?

“I think I pulled up at the driveway at 10 till 6,” Francona said.

He didn’t stay home long. When did he get to Fenway?

“I got here at 10 to 12 because I had to do the EEI thing at noon so I made it,” Francona said.

By the way, Francona is surprised that the media did not ask him about the somewhat humorous scene on Monday night, when he was in the middle of an argument with the umpire and wound up staying on the field during God Bless America.

“I can’t believe nobody asked me about the God Bless America the other night,” Francona said. “I can’t believe it. I didn’t know what to do. I went out to tell the guy I was mad at him and I ended up honoring America with him. We were both looking at each other laughing. I told him during the song, did you ever throw anybody out during God Bless America. He didn’t know me, I don’t think he knew how to take that. I said, ‘I’m just teasing.”‘

On to the nuts and bolts of the day:

Josh Beckett won’t pitch for the Red Sox again until June 3. The righty is on the DL with a lower back strain. But Tim Wakefield will step right in and pitch Sunday in Philly.

Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron will both play at Portland on Thursday, inching closer to returning to the team.

Joe Nelson, the last cut in Spring Training, is back, ready to help the bullpen.

Saturday night at Fenway

What will David Ortiz do tonight to build off his home run from last night? Seemingly, not much. The slugger found himself on the bench for the third time in four games. The Red Sox have run into a string of lefties of late.

Victor Martinez is serving as the DH because tomorrow is a day game and they want him to catch Tim Wakefield.

Speaking of Wake, it should be a pretty good storyline with him pitching, and knowing it’s going to be his last start for a while. Wakefield has been a loyal soldier. You have to feel bad for him getting bounced from the rotation after just two bad starts. At the same time, you understand why the club no longer wants to stunt Clay Buchholz’s development.

The way baseball tends to work out, I’m thinking Wakefield will find his way back into the rotation at some point this season.

Tito still plotting lineup

What will the Red Sox’s starting lineup be on Opening Night — which is one week from today — against the Yankees? Well, the nine players are a given, but manager Terry Francona said he is still trying to figure out the exact order.

One “A” lineup the Sox have had out there a few times this spring is Ellsbury-Pedroia-Martinez-Youkilis-Ortiz-Drew-Beltre-Cameron-Scutaro. But the one dilemma with that alignment is that the five-six spots are back-to-back lefties and the last three spots are all righties.

Francona said he recently had assistant director of baseball operations Zach Scott do some statistical research for him, so he is waiting for some answers on that.

“Tthere’s probably going to be some things in our lineup where either you’re going to set it up for the beginning or the end. I don’t know that there’s a way to set it up where it works perfect. We have a few more right-handers then we’ve had in the past,” Francona said. “They may line up together. I don’t know. We’ll see. That lineup we’ve used so far this year, we’ve had 7-8-9 have been right-handed, five and six have been right-handed. I don’t know that that sounds perfect.

“At the same time, there’s other things we’re trying to account for also so we’ll see. The one thing I don’t want to do is put a lineup out there for Opening Night because it’s [CC] Sabathia that’s not our lineup. I think sometimes that can get overdone. We’ll see.”

Marco Scutaro has the ability to hit at the top or bottom of the order, and Francona has enjoyed the shortstop’s attitude.

“He’s really good about it,” Francona said. “He goes, ‘just put me out there, I’ll play.’ He’s really good about that.”

In other news:

Phenom Casey Kelly will make a one-day return to Major League camp on Tuedsay when he starts against the Rays in Port Charlotte. Tim Wakefield will stay back in Fort Myers that day and throw three innings in a Minor League game, and then come back on three days rest and start the exhibition game against the Nationals in D.C. on April 3.

Kelly’s workload is being monitored closely, similar to Jon Lester in 2006, because his innings will take a significant jump this year. At any rate, it will be fun to watch him pitch again.

“I think it will be a nice day to let him start,” Francona said. “It will be fun for us to get to watch. I think it will be a good experience for him.”

Kelly is expected to throw 60-65 pitches.

Corner infielder Mike Lowell dodged a bullet with that foul ball he nailed off his left knee on Friday. Lowell seemed to be moving around well before Sunday’s game and should play third base on either Monday or Tuesday.

Monday will be a busy day for Francona and his staff. Boof Bonser, Manny Declarmen and Daisuke Matsuzaka will all pitch in the Minors in the afternoon, and Josh Beckett, Scott Schoeneweis and Alan Embree are all on tap that night at home against the Rays.

Outfielder Jeremy Hermida is fine, a day after tweaking his right hamstring. He should return soon.

Big game today, as the Red Sox can clinch the vaunted Mayor’s Cup Trophy with a win against the cross-town Twins.

Saturday subjects

Jeremy Hermida left todays’ game with right hamstring tightness. Will follow up with more when I get more.

Back in Fort Myers this morning, Scott Schoeneweis arrived, Kevin Frandsen arrived, and Mike Lowell discussed the foul ball that nailed him in the left knee and knocked him out of Friday’s game.

Manager Terry Francona said it’s hard to know just when Lowell will be ready for a return to action.

“He’s tender, but not horrible,” said Francona. “Pretty tender. He kind of popped his head in before we left. I don’t know when he’ll play. We’ll see. I guess not as bad as it could have been but again, I kind of come back to what I told you guys – you guys saw the same thing I did. It was painful.”

“When I saw that yesterday, he went down in a hurry. You know he wanted to play. We’ll just keep an eye on him. He’s in there today and he’ll do what he can do.”

As for Schoeneweis, he is fully into his spring routine, having just been released by the Brewers a few days ago. The Red Sox will try to get a quick read on him and determine if he is a fit.

“We’ll see, we’ll just try to cover everything,” Francona said. “We have Alan [Embree] here. We know it’s going to be kind of a short look. That’s why we’re trying not to mess around and prolong it. We want him to be able to get out there and pitch a few times so we can make some good decisions.”

MLB.com’s Maureen Mullen was among the reporters who spoke with the lefty in Fort Myers this morning.

Schoeneweis is excited that the Red Sox have given him a chance. He has gone through a lot in the last year, with his wife dying suddenly last May. His kids will spend time with him in Florida this week.

“They have spring break next week and they’re going to come out and hang out at the beach,” Schoeneweis said. “That takes the sting of having to be this far away. Most guys would rather be without their family in Spring Training. My situation’s a little different. I feel much better with them around. So it took the sting out of having to leave so suddenly, and come out here to Florida. So it’ll be fun for everybody.”

He has thrived throughout his career at Fenway, and used to attend games there as a kid.

“It’s a special [place] for me,” he said.  “Came to Fenway as a little guy, all through my life growing up. It’s always been a special palace. I’ve always pitched well there, and I think it’s just because I love it so much. I’m an East Coast guy,anyway. I enjoyed my time in New York [with the Mets], bought a house in Connecticut. I like the weather in Arizona, but with everything else I’m an East Coast guy. So, this should be pretty special.”

The Red Sox will do as much evaluating as they can over the next few days. With that in mind, they will break up their pitching on Monday. Boof Bonser, who had a minor groin injury during his last start, will pitch in the Minors that day, and so will Daisuke Matsuzaka. Josh Beckett will start the Monday night game, with both Embree and Schoeneweis pitching out of the bullpen that night.

After breaking camp on Friday, the Red Sox will play one exhibition game on Saturday afternoon in the nation’s capital against the Nats. Tim Wakefield and Dice-K are expected to pitch in that one.

Father Farrell watches a hit

For just a moment on Friday afternoon, Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell became father John Farrell.

In a classy gesture by the Pirates, they brought Minor League infield prospect Jeremy Farrell on board as a Minor League extra for Friday’s game against the Red Sox.

So with John Farrell watching intently from the dugout in the bottom of the seventh, Jeremy belted a single up the middle against Red Sox righty Jorge Sosa.

Though Farrell was fairly modest in his comments to reporters after, you can bet he was beaming with pride. So, too, was Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

“Was that great? I hate to root against our guys but that was pretty cool,” Francona said. “That was fun to watch.”

John Farrell’s take?

“You don’t get to see him very often but to see him in this setting is pretty special and we appreciate the Pirates for bringing him over for half a game,” Farrell said. “You like to see the aggressiveness about him. He looks to be in great shape. I know he loves what he’s doing. We’ll see where it takes him.”

As for Farrell’s job as pitching coach, the Red Sox have some juggling to do over the next couple of days. The club has split squad contests on both Sunday and Monday. Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield draws Saturday’s home start vs. the Orioles. On Sunday, Jon Lester takes the ball at home against the Astros, while Felix Doubront pitches at Dunedin against the Jays.

Monday, Boof Bonser pitches at home against the Rays, with Michael Bowden drawing the Jupiter assignment against the Cardinals. John Lackey will also pitch Monday, in a Minor League game. Obvioulsy the Sox gain more from monitoring Bonser, a bubble candidate to make the team, up close, than Lackey, who has breezed through the spring.

“A guy like Bonser, we want him to pitch in an A game,” Francona said. “You’ll see some guys pitch over at the complex. We do that every year. Lackey is to the point where he’ll go get his work in and he’ll be in good shape and we can watch the other guys pitch.”

As for Friday’s game, David Ortiz and Jeremy Hermida both belted longballs, but they had some help from a friendly wind gusting out to right.

“David, real good swing,” Francona said. “Like you were kind of alluding to, though, today’s a day where if you elevate it, it’s going to leave the ballpark. If he got the barrel to it, it went out. It’s a difficult day to judge your pitching. [Junichi Tazawa] gets one and looks like it’s a lineout or a double and it’s a homer. That happens. But it also kind of re-affirms, throw strikes, keep the ball down.”

Meanwhile, Bill Hall took a solid step forward in his quest to show the Sox he can be a backup shortstop, among the other roles he will fill. Hall made all the plays and looked smooth in completing a double play.

 “I thought he had a good day,” Francona said. “I thought he had a real good day. I thought he moved his feet. That was good to see. I thought he did a good job.”

Sping A-Wake-ning for knuckler

Tim Wakefield vowed over and over during the winter that he would be in no way limited by the back surgery he had in October. Given his age (43) and the fact that it was, after all, back surgery, some might have doubted his optimism.

But Wakefield has been backing it up all spring. His second Grapefruit League outing — which took place today in Jupiter, Fla. against the Marlins — was just as strong as his first.

Over three innings, Wakefield gave up two hits and no runs, throwing 30 pitches, 22 for strikes.

“We sort of take it for granted,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters in Jupiter after the game. “We shouldn’t. You know what he is, he’s just really good. Age hasn’t caught up with him. I know that there’s times when he’s been hurt and hasn’t been able to finish the year. But man when he’s out there, he’s pretty good.”

To Wakefield, the last two outings have just re-affirmed what he has suspected for weeks — he’s healthy.

“I was encouraged when I started working out and I got out of therapy,” Wakefield said. “Just when I first started playing catch, going through the regular motions, the on-the-field stuff felt really good. I’m just looking forward to getting over here, proving it every day to myself. Everything feels good.”

All-around, it was a pretty quiet day on the news front. Daisuke Matsuzaka will throw another side session on Wednesday. Terry Francona still suspects his first Grapefruit League game will be sometime around St. Paddy’s Day.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 84 other followers