Results tagged ‘ Tim Wakefield ’

A-Wake-ning

OK, there you have it. Tim Wakefield reeled off a gem on Wednesday. Not only a gem, but a CLUTCH gem.

So perhaps it is time for people to stop sending me e-mails wondering why Wakefield is in the rotation, and why his spot isn’t filled by a more glamorous pitcher who throws hard.

Why is Wakefield in the rotation? Let’s start with the fact that he is one of the top bargains in baseball and has been for the last several years. The man — who signed a contract that was all about loyalty to a city and to a team — makes $4 million a year. That is $4 million for double-digit wins and 150 to 180 innings every year.

Even at 42, Wakefield remains a rock for the Red Sox. After the 12-inning game on Tuesday night, when Dice-K only lasted an inning, Wakefield wandered into his manager’s office before Wednesday’s game.

Basically Wakefield told Terry Francona, “I know what you need from me today and I’m going to give it to you.”

That is a veteran player who understands his responsibility to a team. Wakefield was determined to give his bullpen a reprieve and he wound up giving them an entire day off. He came five outs away from a no-hitter, and it would have been a golden moment for a man who is among the club’s all-time leaders in several categories. He became the oldest pitcher to notch a complete game in Red Sox history.

We know that Wakefield has a SLAP tear in his labrum, and has, since 2007. This means that at some point during the year, his shoulder will get cranky and he’ll need a two to three week break. We also know that at some point, Wakefield will get into one of those ruts that will have many of you e-mailing me and asking me why he is still in the rotation. And most of all, we know that Wakefield will get out of that rut and resume the quality pitching he has displayed so many times since first coming to Boston in 1995.

Big Papi back in the saddle; Lowell playing third

Not sure what happened to Julio Lugo, but he left the game with some sort of right knee injury. This after a half inning of defense.

Speaking of defense, Mike Lowell has made a successful return to third base. Not only did he start a 5-4-3 double play in the first, but he just pummeled a towering home run to left. 

David Ortiz is back in the No. 3 hole for the Sox tonight after his surprisingly abbreviated trip to the World Baseball Classic. And, oh by the way, he unloaded for his first homer of the spring, a drive into the RF seats to cap a seven-run second inning off Chien-Ming Wang.

Are the folks back in the Dominican still shocked at two straight losses to the Netherlands? Ortiz couldn’t even believe the question. Of course they are shocked!

“What do you
think? It’s only been a few days,” Ortiz said.


For folks in the Dominican Republic, the World Baseball Classic is not just some exhibition showcase event, it is a matter of national baseball pride. So yes, the loss to a team that hardly any Major Leaguers was extremely tough to swallow.

As much as folks in the Dominican value the event, Ortiz has a feeling that he won’t  be participating in the 2013 Classic, at which time he’ll be 37 years old.

“I’d have to think
about it but I don’t think I will,” Ortiz said. “That’s going to be another four years and by
that time, I don’t think I’m going to be thinking about that anymore. I’ve
already done it twice so people won’t complain about it back home. I’ve done it
already. I’ll just have somebody do it.”

In a candid moment in front of his locker, Ortiz said that it is easier to get in a routine and get prepared for a season in Spring Training camp rather than at the Classic.

“In my situation,
coming back here gives you a better chance to get ready than being out there
every day,” Ortiz said. “You don’t get to play every day, and on top of that, there are places
you go where you don’t have that much time to get our work in.


“One way or
another, that kind of affects you. The first time [in 2006, you had more time at the
field and things like that. I'm the kind of guy, I've got to do some extra
stuff to get ready. I'm pretty sure that all the guys are pretty much the same
way."

 

“It’s not like I wanted
us to lose, but we already lost so …

“I’m happy to be
back and get ready,” Ortiz said.

 

George Kottaras is catching Tim Wakefield, but I still think Josh Bard is the heavy favorite to win that job.

Great to see NESN’s Jerry Remy back in the booth tonight. Terry Francona gave Remy a big, enthusiastic hug when he spotted him in the dugout during pre-game. This was Remy’s first game of Spring Training.

Remy returned to Fort Myers with his usual humor, telling his audience on NESN, “I would have been here sooner, but i had visa issues back in massachusetts and i couldn’t leave.”

Beautiful, absolute gorgeous night at City of Palms! I wish all of you were here.

There are some great matchups on tap at the World Baseball Classic this weekend.

Team USA is playing Puerto Rico on Saturday night in Miami. The upstart Netherlands plays Venezuela at 1 p.m. ET Saturday afternoon. Dice-K takes the ball for Japan on Sunday against Cuba in a 4 p.m. ET tilt.

Classic Exodus

There was a different feel in the clubhouse at City of Palms Park this morning, as David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia and Jason Bay were spending their final few hours in Fort Myers before going to the camps of their respective countries for the World Baseball Classic. Javy Lopez was also leaving camp, but Puerto Rico will train just down the road in Fort Myers for the next few days.

Meanwhile, Dice-K remains in Japan, where he’s been all spring. He pitched for the second time in a game situation yesterday — or is it tomorrow in Japan ??? — giving up a hit and two walks over three shutout innings against the Yomiuri Giants. It was a relief appearance for the Dice Man.

By the way, Mr. Ortiz has a message for his teammate, but possible competitor during the Classic

“I’m
going to take Dice-K deep for sure,” chuckled Ortiz.

But Dustin Pedroia, whose TEAM USA squad will be playing in the same bracket as Canada in the first round, couldn’t resist telling Jason Bay that his squad won’t be around long.

“Pedroia told me to pack one pair of underwear,” said Bay.


Speaking of Bay, he will play center field for Canada to allow his team to generate some more offense.

After those early-morning chats about the Classic, I trucked over here to Hammond Stadium for a tilt against the Twins. The Red Sox trotted out Pedroia, Ortiz and Youkilis in this one, and have a loaded arsenal of pitchers going today, including Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield, Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima and Takashi Saito.

Youkilis (photo below) just smashed a homer to right-center, improving a swing that he felt had been “horse manure” in recent days.

youkgoesddeep.jpeg

Beckett had a nice easy stint, mowing down all six batters he faced. He didn’t get to use his changeup because he was so efficient at being ahead in the count. Oh well, that’s a problem Beckett and the Red Sox will gladly take.

Papelbon was impressive in his first exhibition outing, firing 10 pitches and mowing through the Twins in order.

Sox are in Fort Lauderdale tomorrow. I’m not scheduled to go on that trip, but I will pass along whatever updates I get.

Nightcap, anyone?

Back here for more baseball. Tim Wakefield and Josh Bard have officially been reunited in game action — albeit in an exhibition — for the first time since that ill-fated night of April 26, 2006. That game was in Cleveland, and Bard had four passed balls in a Sox loss. He was traded five days later and Doug Mirabelli came back in the police escort and all that. You remember.

Anyway, things were much smoother here tonight under the bright lights of Hammond Stadium, in this Red Sox-Twins exhibition. There were no mishaps of any kind in the first inning, though Wakefield did give up a double and walk a batter.

In the second inning, Wakefield’s problems had nothing to do with Bard. He just got hit a little bit. Single, single, RBI single, sac fly, bloop RBI single to right.  Next thing you knew, it was 3-0. But the best part of that inning for Bard is that all but three pitches were with runners on base, so it was a great test to see how he’d handle the knuckler under duress. He did fine.

On to other matters: Dustin Pedroia didn’t waste any time making his presence felt this offseason, ripping a double to left-center in his first at-bat.

For all you basketball junkies out there, I am officially on record as saying that Stephon Marbury is going to be a nice fit with the Celtics. He’s trying to build back his value and his image. What better way of doing so then being a nice piece of a potential championship team? Don’t be a hater. Marbury is going to get the job done in Green.

To demonstrate how much I like basketball, I might go to a sports bar and take in a little Celtics-Clippers (10:30 p.m. EST) action once this fine baseball game is over.

Papi stays inside

For the second straight day, David Ortiz did not participate in outdoor drills with his teammates. Is it Papi’s knee that was surgically repaired after the 2007 season? Is it that left wrist that kept him out for seven weeks last year?

Relax, you Red Sox Nationers. It’s nothing of that sort. Ortiz merely had a bit of a sore shoulder and will be back out there for a full day of drills on Saturday.

“He’s a little better,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona.
“Actually, a lot better. We held him back one more day. I think he probably just overdid
it the other day a little bit. He’s not a guy that’s probably done a ton of
throwing coming into camp. We go out there and he does the groundballs with
everybody and then he went home and fell asleep on it but I think tomorrow he’ll
be fine. It’s his left shoulder. It’s sore. It’s nothing that anybody has had
any concerns about.”

To give you an idea of how slow camp has been the last few days, Ortiz actually drew a crowd at his locker to talk about the nagging shoulder. He completely downplayed it, saying that he was fine and that he expects to be back on the field tomorrow.

“It’s just the kind of thing that happens and you have to do what you have to do, you know?” Ortiz said.

After the workout, Ortiz, still in workout shorts and a Red Sox sweatshirt, could be seen sitting in the drivers seat of his red ferrari. Nice ride!

In other news, Josh Beckett threw his first live BP of the spring and looked pretty impressive in doing so.

“Thought Beckett
did well,” Francona said. “[He] kept the ball down and stayed in his delivery.”

Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield and Justin Masterson were some of the other significant pitchers to face hitters.

Stay tuned Saturday, as Francona will unveil his early Grapefruit League pitching rotation at that time. I know, it doesn’t quite compare to the Kevin Garnett knee injury in terms of news value, but interesting to pent-up Sox fans nonetheless. 

Buchholz working on the mental game

Nobody has ever questioned the gift that Clay Buchholz has in his right arm, from the mid 90s fastball to that sweeping curveball to the changeup that freezes hitters. But obviously something led to his 2-9 record and 6.75 ERA last year, during his stints in the Major Leagues. It was the mental side, which Buchholz acknowledged in a session with the media on Thursday, official reporting day here at Spring Training.

“You live and learn, and I learned a lot from last year,” Buchholz said. “It’s definitely
mental. Physically I worked pretty hard this offseason, throwing a lot more. I
feel like I’m in better shape. The mental side of it, I’ve always heard, it’s
90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. I know have the athletic ability to
do it but if you don’t have the right frame of mind to go about it, I don’t
think you’ll succeed so that was a big part of it this offseason.”

To get a handle on the mental aspect, Buchholz met with former Major Leaguer Bob Tewksbury, who is the sports psychology coach for the Red Sox.

“I
had a couple of meetings with Mr. Tewksbury, and he just helped me on some
little things to go out there and think about,” Buchholz said. “If you have negative thoughts
going through your head when you’re on the mound during a game, you sort of
have to step off the mound, take a breath and try to make a pitch instead of
worrying about the next batter the inning before. That was my deal last year.”

What will Buchholz’s deal be this year? The Red Sox have Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield and Brad Penny slated for the rotation and John Smoltz pegged for a spot once he is given medical clearance.

Buchholz isn’t thinking about that right now. He’s just thinking about getting his own game back on track. Last year was an utter nightmare. It’s hard to forget the sight of Buchholz just completely losing it at Camden Yards that night in August in what proved to be his final Major League start of the season. From there, he went to Double-A, and then to the Arizona Fall League. This from the kid who tossed a no-hitter the previous September.

 “I’d get in a jam last year and I’d try to make a pitch perfect instead of just
making a pitch and that’s where I got behind in the count all of last year.
that was exactly my mindset in the bullpen that I just threw. Really easy and
try to hit the third of the plate, instead of right on the black, and that’s how
I’m going to go about it.”

In other news, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield held court with the media this morning and expressed optimism about working with Josh Bard again.

“I
said that three years ago that I never had somebody work as hard as he did to
try to catch me and do the right things,” Wakefield said. “He was truly a professional — his attitude
and his preparation for the way he went about his work and I look forward to
working with him again.”

Theo Epstein and Terry Francona will do their annual opening of camp address to the media at noon. It won’t be the same this year without the annual question of asking whether Manny is expected to arrive in camp on time.

Lastly, please e-mail me a few more questions at ian.browne@mlb.com. I’m hoping to post an in-box — formerly known as mailbag — by tomorrow.

All for now.

Ian.

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