Results tagged ‘ Tim Wakefield ’

Friday from the Fort

Manager Terry Francona was in the middle of his post-game session with the media, when Ron Gardenhire spotted him.

“Tito!” the Twins’ manager yelled.

“Gardy!” Francona shouted back.

“One and one, baby!” Gardenhire said, as Francona howled with laughter.

Yes, the riveting Mayor’s Cup — a best-of-seven series this spring — is now tied at 1-1. This on a day the Twins beat the Red Sox, 5-0.

The day started at City of Palms Park, where the Red Sox went through a normal pre-game routine at their own park before taking the seven-mile jaunt to the Twins’ complex.

“It’s like a Spring Training day in Arizona,” quipped Francona, who was definitely talking about the proximity and not the weather, which is still chillier than Floridians are accustomed to at this time of year.

Daisuke Matsuzaka reeled off 58 pitches in the bullpen, the last 10 of which came with the catcher in a full crouch. Yes, the Red Sox are easing the righty back into a full throwing program after the back woes that plagued him at the start of camp. But all systems are now go for Matsuzaka, who will throw a full side session on Sunday and then progress to game action at some point in the near future. There is no official word yet, but judging by the timing alone, it’s doubtful Dice-K will be ready for the very start of the season. But this isn’t big news when you consider the Red Sox have three off-days before they play their eighth game. Do some quick math and you realize Francona doesn’t even need a fifth starter until April 18. Expect the club not to rush Dice-K and keep the long term as the priority.

Third baseman Mike Lowell is also feeling quite well in his recovery from right thumb surgery, and he told Francona he could play in a game next Wednesday. But it doesn’t sound like that will happen. I’m sure Lowell is antsy to get back out there, so his situation can start getting resolved. Obviously he wants to prove his health and possibly land an every-day job somewhere else.

“He was pushing today to play Wednesday so obviously he’s feeling pretty good,” Francona said. “I still think that’s pretty quick.”

The Red Sox have long road trips on Thursday an Friday of next week, so the home game on March 13 against the Pirates could be a more realistic date for Lowell to make his spring debut.

The game itself — other than the drop in the Mayor’s Cup standings — was pretty uneventful. Jon Lester had a rocky first inning — three hits, four runs —  but nobody was concerned about it. Tim Wakefield dazzled in his first two innings since back surgery, giving up one hit and no other baserunners. The knuckleballer threw 22 pitches, 16 for strikes.

Saturday, the stage will belong to John Lackey. The $82.5 million man will throw his first game pitches in a Red Sox uniform, which will be a soft launch of sorts for his real debut next month, likely against the Yankees at Fenway.

Lowell works out at first

For the second time in three days, Mike Lowell, a career third baseman, spent time at first base during Boston’s workouts.

Lowell is trying to gain comfort at first this spring, which could help his market value and also make him more viable to the Red Sox if he stays with the club.

Manager Terry Francona said that Lowell seemed to make the transition to the other side of the diamond “pretty good”. Here he is taking a grounder down the line, in a photo by Brita Meng Outzen.
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“For everybody, it’s different,” Francona said. “From my standpoint, you’re seeing the ball off the bat from a completely different angle. It’s like left field, right field. I think as you get comfortable, if you can play third, you’re going to be able to catch the ball at first. But when it’s not to you at third, you can stand there. When it’s not hit to you at first, you better get to first. It’s just different real estate. But once you get comfortable over there, then the natural instincts take over.”

The Red Sox managed to get all their work in on Saturday, despite a downpour that started almost immediately when they came off the field.

“Everything, which was very fortunate,” Francona said. “Right when Pap took the mound, the groundskeeper came out and said, ‘you’ve got 10 more minutes’ which would have been a little different. But no, we got everything in. It wasn’t the best day ever but we got everything in. Guys got their throwing in, guys got their hitting and we’re OK.”

Daisuke Matsuzaka continues to climb back to full health in his recovery from a minor back injury.

“Dice-K today, he threw off the mound — just tossed off the mound. Today was kind of his down day because tomorrow is going to be 150 feet,” Francona said. “But he did it off the mound so he could at least be at that angle. He wasn’t throwing hard but just so he could get the feel of that angle because you can’t do that off the flatground. Tomorrow will be a pretty aggressive day, probably out to 140 or 150.”

Matuzaka should have a full-out bullpen session by early next week, perhaps Tuesday.

In case you missed it, the here is how the pitching lines up for the exhibition games.

Wednesday vs. Northeastern and Boston College — Casey Kelly and Boof Bonser.

Thursday at home vs. the Twins. Josh Beckett; Friday at the Twins complex. Jon Lester, piggybacked by Tim Wakefield. Saturday split squad at home vs. the Twins. John Lackey. Saturday on the road split squad. Felix Doubront; Sunday at Sarasota vs. the Orioles. Clay Buchholz.

Pitching practice

Yes, it is, for some reason, referred to as live batting practice. But that’s hardly what was taking place on Friday morning, as John Lackey, Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz all took turns devouring most of the hitters that stood in the box against them. It was the first round of live BP for all of Boston’s starting pitchers with the exception of Daisuke Matsuzaka, who will likely get off the mound early next week.

Let the record show that the first batter John Lackey faced while wearing a Red Sox uniform was Jed Lowrie. The first pitch was a strike on the outside corner.

“Incrementally, it was another step, increase in intensity,” said Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. “I thought he threw the ball with good downhill angle. His two-seamer had very good life to his arm side. He spun some curveballs for strikes which at this point in camp that’s what we’re looking for. We’re not looking for the swing-and-miss type, the putaway. It’s getting a feel for a hitter in the box and how they’re reacting to the stuff that each one of our guys is delivering to the plate. The amount of volume picks up a little bit more today with a full eight or 10 minute bullpen, in addition to the 40 pitches of BP. He’s handling the volume well and executing from pitch to pitch thus far.”

Lackey is the type of professional who doesn’t need much hands-on supervision during Spring Training.

“He has a clear understanding of what Spring Training is about and what he’ll need to get ready for games,” said Farrell. “Certainly there’s been a lot fo dialogue, but we’re trying to get an idea of what he likes, what his preferecnes are. We’ll get more of that when games begin. There’s an internal clock there you can see at work. He’s taking a very solid approach to getting ready for games. The last couple of springs have probalby given him some information on when to pick it up a notch. He’s going about it the absolute right way.”

Wakefield continues to impress and shows no ill effects from back surgery. David Ortiz did not enjoy the experience of trying to hit Wakefield’s knuckleball. As a matter of fact, Ortiz was demonstrative in his disbelief of how much some of Wakefield’s knucklers moved.

“We’re all encouraged,” Farrell said of Wakefield. “These first 10 days on the Minor League complex, there’s a lot of volume guys are going through. Not just the bullpens, but all the other activity we’re going through. And he’s respnoded each day, and each day he’ gone out a  little more refined and with more arm strength, which was evident with the quality of pitches through the length of a typical bullpen session.”

Wake and MDC

Here are some leftovers from the Boston Baseball Writers DInner.

Tim Wakefield? It doesn’t sound like the Red Sox envision him for a relief role, despite having six starters for five spots at the moment.

“I haven’t thought about that a lot. He’s a starter,”Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “I think what we need to do is … for the last three or four years we haven’t had him at the end of the year. It’s probably hard for Wake to understand. He sees us signing guys and probably that’s a normal human reaction. What we’re trying to do is have our guys stay healthy and productive. You hear us say that all the time, all year. I think this is the best way we can do that. How that slots out, we really don’t know yet.”

While it’s true the Red Sox didn’t go out and make a major bullpen addition this winter, pitching coach John Farrell made a very interesting point.

“One acquisition we made this offseason would be getting Many Delcarmen back to what he was for two and a half years prior to the second half of last season,” said Farrell. “He was one of the top four or five middle relievers in all of baseball and he’s a key part of our bullpen. Getting him back to the form he pitched at for a two and a half year stretch will go a long way toward putting him back in that category of performer that he was. A lot of times, most recent outings are the most fresh in guys minds and how they draw confidence from that. It’s important for us to get him in to a confident state as we start the games in spring training and continue to build on. I think there was some fatigue that set in with him toward the end of the season and kept him off the postseason roster. They weren’t to the extent of a major injury, but the result of certain outings. He didn’t have the need for any repair or anything like that. We expect and anticipate he’ll get back to that level.”

Two more years of knuckleballs at Fenway

Great to hear that the Red Sox and Tim Wakefield have reached agreement on a two-year deal. Wakefield has been a class act his entire time in Boston, and one of the most loyal players in franchise history.

With 175 wins in a Boston uniform, it is very realistic that he can get the 18 necessary to set the team’s all-time win record over the next two years.

Few athletes have appreciated what it means to play for the Red Sox more than Wakefield. Hopefully, for his sake, his body will hold up a little better over the next couple of years than it has for the last three or four.

For years, Wakefield had left his retirement as open-ended .But now, it appears set in his mind that he will step down after the 2011 season.

Medical updates

Not much news to report since it all ended for the Red Sox last Sunday, but there are a couple of minor medical updates.

Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, as first reported by WEEI.com, will have his back surgery on Wednesday at Massachusetts General Hospital. The surgery will be performed by Dr. Lawrence Borges. Once the procedure is over, the Red Sox can officially decide if Wakefield is back in the fold for the 2010 season.

Unless there are any complications, I fully expect Wakefield to embark on a 16th season with the Sox. I fully don’t get people who think they should commit that $4 million to a younger, healthier player. Wakefield fully earned his $4 million in the first half alone, making the All-Star team. If you need prove, then check out what Brad Penny did for $5 million of the Red Sox’s money and what John Smoltz did for $5.5 million.

Ever since agreeing to annual $4 million extensions every year, starting with the 2006 season, Wakefield has proved to be worth all of that money.

While Wakefield does need surgery, it apears that Jed Lowrie does not need another procedure on his torublesome left wrist.

Lowrie consulted with Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona shortly after the Red Sox were knocked out of the playoffs.

“The prognosis is good,” Lowrie wrote in an e-mail to WEEI.com. “With rest, strength and conditioning it should be 100 percent.”

What is hardly 100 percent certain is who will be the starting shortstop for the Red Sox next season.

Wake a spectator for Round 1

One bit of postseason news this morning, as it was officially announced that Tim Wakefield will not participate in the Division Series. However, the Red Sox recommended to Wakefield that he not have immediate surgery on his back in case they need him for subsequent rounds.

“Great,” said Wakefield. “I’ll be ready.”

Other than that, the knuckleballer did not feel like chatting with the smattering of reporters who tried to catch him this morning.

Wake in limbo

No word yet on when Tim Wakefield will pitch again this season, or if he will. The veteran knuckleballer has battled through immense discomfort in his back to give the Red Sox four starts in the second half, during which he is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA.

The Red Sox appear locked in to a rotation that will include Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Considering Wakefield’s health, it’s unclear if there is much he could provide out of the bullpen.

“I don’t know. There’s so much uncertainty there,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “He’s not going to pitch this weekend. We have decisions to make, so I really don’t know. That’s one of the things we’ll talk about. It’s difficult for us. We all acknowledge who he is, what he’s done for the organization for a long time. He’s also out there on one leg, so it makes it difficult.”

Wake and see

Still no definitive word on when Tim Wakefield pitches again for the Red Sox. He threw a side session before Tuesday’s game, but his back simply won’t be right again until he has sugery.

“The strength deficit from one leg to the other is very noticeable. It’s certainly not getting better,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “Because he’s trying hard to do what he does, which is pitch, we’re trying to kind of stay with this and do the right thing. To be honest with you, I don’t know if we know what the right thing is yet. It’s really, nothing has changed. He did throw a side. We want to wait and see how he shows up tomorrow and if he’s better or worse or the same, and we’ll go from there.”

Francona has mentioned loosely a couple of times that Wakefield could return at some point this weekend in Baltimore. Where does that stand?

 “Uh, we could either pitch him Sunday in Baltimore or Monday in Kansas City,” Francona said. “And that is because we would wait and see how Dice-k does tonight and if the extra day does him good. And, again, that far off, doesn’t interfere with Wake’s preparation if he’s healthy enough to pitch.”

Dice-K ready, team will line up a spot

Now that Daisuke Matsuzaka has completed his rehab, the Red Sox, perhaps by later tonight, will slot in a spot for him in the rotation. Right now, it seems logical to think he will pitch Tuesday night against the Angels. Do they push everyone back or do they skip Paul Byrd? That seems to be the question at the moment.

The Red Sox got very good reports on Dice-K’s performance — 6 2/3 innings, 3 hits, 1 ER — from his performance in Winston Salem the other night.

“Very [encouraged],” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “Sounded like he held his velocity, had some depth to his slider. Later into the game, as he accumulated some pitches, his fastball stayed, which was great. We know, it’s Winston Salem. But it’s a heck of a lot better than – pitching good is better than pitching bad. And we wanted him to get deep into the game and compete a little bit and he did all that.”

Tim Wakefield had the third cortisone shot of the last couple of months for his ailing back during Thursday’s off-day.

Wakefield isn’t worried that he is putting his long-term health in jeopardy with so many cortisone shots in a short amount of time.

“No, the doctor said it’s not going to do any harm. It’s not like a shoulder, where it can be potentially harmful, so I trust the doctors,” said Wakefield.

The Red Sox hope the knuckleballer can step back into the rotation next weekend at Baltimore.

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