Tag: Tim Wakefield

MLB: Retirement Is "Difficult" Yet Rewarding for Tim Wakefield

Tim Wakefield recently told Jon Paul Morosi of CBS Sports about how he is settling into his retirement.

In his exact words as reported on Twitter:

“It’s been difficult. The fire to compete is still there. But it’s been fun to be home, be a dad, a husband.”

Many baseball players go through this same set of emotions. It must be exciting to finally settle in to a more “normal” life of staying at home and being with the family. However, at the same time, it must be difficult to leave behind a game that has surely influenced his life in such a great way.

Wakefield is definitely not the first baseball player to experience this phenomenon. Just recently, Andy Pettitte tried his hand at the retirement lifestyle, but is back in Major League Baseball after only one year away.

I am not claiming that Wakefield will return next season, but I’m simply using Pettitte as an example of a baseball player who thought that he had called it quits but couldn’t stay away.

Baseball is a lifestyle for these men. Most of them have probably been playing since they were five or six years old, and it is hard to break away from such a strong force in their lives.

Tim Wakefield had an excellent career and should definitely be proud of that. The decision to retire must have been incredibly difficult, but now that he has made that choice, I am glad everything is working out so well for him. His new stage of life will certainly bring another great set of rewards; in fact, it already is as shown in this video from NESN.


Whether you think I know everything or nothing about Major League Baseball, you should follow me on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook and keep in touch. I love hearing what you all have to say!



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What Can Boston Red Sox Players Learn from Today’s Tim Wakefield Tribute?

I hope that starting pitcher Josh Beckett and everybody else on the Red Sox roster was watching closely during the “Thank you, Wake” ceremonies before today’s ballgame against the Mariners at Fenway Park.

In addition to being a classy sendoff for the knuckleballer, the event showed just where Tim Wakefield‘s priorities were during his 17-year career with Boston.

Rather than showing a bunch of highlights of Wakefield’s 200 career victories, the Jumbotron featured photos of him posing with kids from Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic and Franciscan Hospital for Children. Rather than trot out a bunch of celebrities to sing his praises, the Red Sox had representatives from the different charities Wakefield has supported during the years join him on the field.

And in a moment that moved the man of honor to tears, dozens of former “Wakefield Warriors” emerged from the same center field door that past Red Sox players had used to make their entrance during Fenway’s 100th anniversary celebration last month. The Wakefield Warriors are patients from the Jimmy Fund and Franciscan Hospital who Tim invited to be his guests before each Tuesday game at Fenway, and it was clear from the look on his face as he shook their hands just what their presence at the ceremony meant to him.

The only person to speak besides emcee Don Orsillo and Wakefield himself was longtime teammate David Ortiz. Like Wake, Ortiz is a former winner of the Roberto Clemente Award given annually to the MLB player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement, and the individual’s contribution to his team,” as voted on by baseball fans and members of the media. “I know how much Boston means to you, and I know how much you mean to Boston,” Ortiz said, and the fans roared in agreement.

One of the few baseball moments that was referred to during the half-hour ceremony was Wakefield’s selfless gesture to give up his Game 4 start in the 2004 ALCS and pitch in long relief during a 19-8 loss to the Yankees at Fenway in Game 3. This move, perhaps more than any other, showed Wake’s character and devotion to his teammates. (It was followed up, of course, by three great relief innings and a win by Wakefield in Game 5, helping Boston on the way to its improbable pennant and World Series triumph.) 

In the wake of last September’s collapse, the chicken and beer scandal and the bad karma that has (fairly or unfairly) carried over into this Red Sox season, the ceremony was a reminder of the type of difference ballplayers can make in the lives of others—and their teammates—by carrying themselves with class and dignity.

Tim Wakefield won more games at Fenway Park than any other pitcher, but he also won the hearts of fans for what he did when he wasn’t on the mound. That’s the sign of a true hero.


Saul Wisnia lives less than seven miles from Fenway Park and works 300 yards from Yawkey Way. His latest book, Fenway Park: The Centennial, is available at amazon.com and his Red Sox reflections can be found at http://saulwisnia.blogspot.com/. You can reach him at saulwizz@gmail.com or @saulwizz.

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Wakefield and Dickey Toss Opening ‘Knuckleball’

One of the opening weekend highlights of the ongoing TriBeCa Film Festival in New York was Saturday’s outdoor screening of the new documentary Knuckleball!, which tells the stories of (to date) the last two professional pitchers to use the dancing, dazzling knuckleball as their primary weapon, Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey. 

What made the evening special was a clinic that the two hurlers, along with famed practitioners Charlie Hough and Jim Bouton, conducted for kids just steps from the film seating at the World Financial Center.

The knuckleball is a “pitch born of desperation,” or so said all four of the pitchers prior to the screening, though not in so many words.  That may be true, but the long careers enjoyed by Wakefield, Dickey, Hough, Phil Niekro, Wilbur Wood, Hoyt Wilhelm and other knuckleballers attest to the value of harnessing this tantalizing pitch, even when it can’t really be harnessed.

“No one is getting drafted as a knuckleballer,” said Dickey (a first-round pick of the Rangers as a fireballer in 1996), whose tribulations started almost immediately when a special test indicated a missing ligament in his throwing arm.  If ever a first-round pick could become an immediate underdog, here it was.  A few years of struggles at the big league level led, almost accidentally, to a shift from the hand to the fingernails.

“It’s a dying art that needs to be emphasized,” said Wakefield of the pitch that is now thrown only by Dickey among pitchers at all levels of organized ball.  “The filmmakers did a fantastic job in capturing what the pitch can do and how it affected our lives.”

Wakefield was switched from a first baseman to knuckleball pitcher, the “desperation” coming in the form of the alternative, which was his release from the Pirates.  After taking Pittsburgh by storm as a rookie, the ball stopped dancing his way, leading to his departure a year after making the All-Star team.  Boston picked him up, with Phil and Joe Niekro on board as instructors, and the rest is history.

Knuckleball! delves into these parallel careers, and through a brief sit-down with Dickey, Wakefield, Phil Niekro and Hough, gets into some of the psychology of throwing the pitch and what it took for these quite similar personalities to excel at it.

The directors will host a special screening at Independent Film Festival in Boston on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. at the Somerville Theatre,

The film could probably use more of these all-time greats, but the Dickey and Wakefield stories are compelling, and the access granted last summer gives fans a look inside their clubhouses and living rooms, but more importantly, inside their heads.

Jerry Milani is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained first-hand.

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Tim Wakefield: 2 Boston Red Sox Stories You Probably Have Not Heard

Since it appears that the Tim Wakefield era in Boston may be nearing its last hours, I thought it might be an appropriate time to tip my hat to one of my favorite all-time Red Sox by sharing two stories that show what kind of guy he is away from the field.

Wakefield came to the Sox in the spring of 1995, when Monica Lewinsky was a new intern at the White House and Jose Canseco was taking aim at the Coke bottles atop the Green Monster. Everybody knows what Wake did that summer—starting his Boston career with a 14-1 mark and leading the Sox into the playoffs—and even when his stats were far less gaudy in the 17 years that followed, he was a very valuable guy to have around.

He started, closed, pitched long relief—whatever the team needed. In October of 2004, in the dismal final innings of Game 3 of the ALCS, I was among those shivering from behind the home dugout as Wake took one for the team and ate up precious innings during a 19-8 Yankees blowout. Those of us left when that game ended gave him a standing ovation, and by giving up his Game 4 start so others could rest, Tim paved the way for the eight straight wins that followed.

But you know all that stuff. Here’s what you might not know. A few months later, the World Series trophy made one of its first stops on its all-New England winter/spring 2005 tour at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI). The Red Sox and Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund charity have a relationship going back nearly 60 years, which I’ve been lucky enough to be part of since ’99 as a DFCI staff member.

This was one of my greatest memories from that long tenure, for it was Wakefield who came to the hospital bearing the trophy.

I was one of his tour guides as we strode onto a back-entrance elevator, and a few minutes later emerged in the Jimmy Fund Clinic—surprising many pediatric cancer patients who were waiting for shots, chemotherapy, and other treatment.

For a few minutes, these kids got to forget all about their cancer as Wakefield walked around the room slowly and bent down so every patient—no matter how small—could get a good look at the trophy and his face.

I’ve seen dozens of celebrities work this same room, and most of them go through quickly with a smile and a wave. Tim took time to stop and make every child and parent feel like he really cared about them. The youngest kids didn’t even know who he was, but he was a big smiling man with a shiny trophy, so they were happy.

We expected the visit to end after this, but Wakefield asked if he could stay and visit with adult patients as well. This time, there were some tears among the smiles, as people who had waited 20, 30, 50 years or more for a Red Sox championship suddenly had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to thank one of the guys who helped make it happen. It certainly wasn’t how they expected their day at the hospital to go.

Our photographer took dozens of photos, of course, but as is our policy I stood out of the way no matter how tempting it was to sneak into the frame. After all, I had waited 37 years myself for a World Series title. Wake must have sensed this, for after he was finally done shaking hands and doling out hugs, he was about to breeze out to a waiting Town Car when he turned around and said, “Hey, do you want a picture?” He didn’t have to ask me twice, and just like that I had my own memento from that memorable morning.

Fast forward to the summer of 2008: The teenagers from the Jimmy Fund Clinic were taking their annual baseball road trip to see the Red Sox play away from Fenway—this time in Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field. These trips are a chance for kids to share laughs and war stories with peers who know what they are going through, because they’re going through it as well. Baseball, like cancer, is a common bond.

As is usually the custom, the teens came out to the ballpark early to meet with some Sox players before batting practice. Wakefield was always one of the guys who made the most time for kids during these sessions, and this day was no exception. He walked over to the railing separating the stands from the field and started chatting with the young fans.

Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a bald-headed kid with crutches hopping on one leg about 10 rows back. It was clear that this boy, who had lost a leg four months back due to bone cancer, was not going to be able to traverse down the steep stairs needed to meet Wakefield and his other heroes.

Again Tim did what came naturally—he vaulted over the railing into the stands, ran up the stairs, grabbed the grinning 15-year-old, and literally carried him down on his back to the front row so he could hang with his friends and the players. Wakefield went just 10-11 that summer, but that day he was Sandy Koufax and Walter Johnson wrapped into one.

“Every time I walk out to the mound and see that Jimmy Fund emblem on the Green Monster, I am reminded of the special role the team has played in helping fight cancer since Ted Williams was visiting with patients at Dana-Farber back in the 1950s,” Wake once told me. “I’m proud to be a part of it.” It certainly always showed.

So now it might all be over—with Wake stuck on 186 Red Sox wins, apparently destined to finish runner-up to Clemens and Cy Young (tied at 192) atop Boston’s all-time victory list. It’s frustrating to think that for many fans, their last memories of the ancient knuckleballer will be the long, painful march to his 200th career win last year, and his one unfortunate quote in nearly 20 years (one I am guessing may have been taken out of context anyway).

Instead, people should remember all the good days he had while representing Boston with class and guts, and know that when it came to delivering off the mound, Wake was in a league of his own.

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Tim Wakefield: Ranking 10 Greatest Moments as Red Sox Player

Baseball is a magnificent sport.

In a relatively short period of time a man can win over the masses and just as quickly lose their affection, becoming old news.  Some say baseball is a young man’s game.  That is probably true.  Though, there have been players who have defied that conventional wisdom, playing into their late 30s and early 40s.

Tim Wakefield has been one of those transcendental players.

His major league playing days started as a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates way back in 1992.  Suffice to say, some reading this were likely born in 1992 or thereafter.

I won’t bother to go into his early days playing baseball.  However, I do recommend picking up his book, “Knuckler:  My Life With Baseballs Most Confounding Pitch” written with Tony Massarotti.  It is an excellent read.

Lately there have been many fans and writers alike calling for Wakefield to just call it quits.  I don’t want to talk about that right now.

Rather, what I would like to do is examine 10 of Wake’s most memorable moments in a Red Sox uniform to serve as a reminder to Red Sox fans exactly what the man has meant to this team and this city.

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MLB Free Agents 2012: Tough Choice to Be Made with Tim Wakefield for Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox appear to be getting closer to finding their manager. Once that decision is made, then the rest of the major offseason decisions are likely to be made in a rapid succession.

Considering that the winter meetings are in just three weeks, and the free agent period is already in full swing, the Red Sox will soon be faced with some choices. 

Among them will be the one regarding pitcher Tim Wakefield. In an interview with the Boston Globe, Tim Wakefield’s agent, Barry Meister, said that if the Red Sox neglected to bring back the 45-year-old Wakefield, then “he’s going to win 15 games somewhere else.’’ 

Now, agents are of course in the business of selling their clients’ services, and there’s little doubt in my mind that Wakefield would get signed by another team, get some starts, and get some wins if he was denied an offer by the Red Sox. 

Fifteen wins though? Look, if Meister wants to sell his client’s services, then there are a number of things he could honestly point out.

Point out his versatility as a pitcher and his ability to pitch in long or short relief as well as start; point out that he doesn’t require the same regimented pitch counts and days off as most modern major league starters do. 

Fifteen wins? Wakefield hasn’t won 15 games since 2007. He could do it again, but it’s not really a stretch to suggest that Wakefield may finally be slowing down a touch. His numbers aren’t falling into an abyss, but they are in decline (and they weren’t dominant type numbers to begin with).

Wakefield is one of the longest tenured members on the Red Sox roster, and while that is an admirable quality, many fans felt his pursuit of individual achievements such as his 200th win this past summer have been distractions from the team’s overall focus.

The real issue with Wakefield is this: While he’s not by any means a great, or even consistently good starting pitcher, this team currently has only three starters who they can trot out to the mound with any confidence for the 2012 season. It’s easy to say that guys like CJ Wilson or Roy Oswalt are better options, but they would also cost more—a lot more.

Wakefield is a known commodity and he’s not that pricey. Last season the Red Sox spent $142 million on Carl Crawford. Crawford was unlikely to ever earn that much, yet the Red Sox needed an outfielder and overpaid for the best one on the market at that time.

Going after a guy like CJ Wilson or Roy Oswalt may prove to be the very same thing—a headline-grabbing offseason move that grabs headlines for all the wrong reasons once the regular season begins.

The right answer of course is what ends up working. If the Sanox retain Wakefield, only to watch him labor through another injury-prone, inconsistent season, even at a low cost it’s still a valuable roster spot.

If Boston lets him go and spend big on a questionable free agent who falters, while Wakefield has as an impressive season in another uniform, once again, the Sox will look bad.

It’s a tough choice, one of many for new general manager Ben Cherington, and whoever the eventual manager is. Those two should get used to tough choices though—they’re part of the job when you’re running the Boston Red Sox.  

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Boston Red Sox: "Hell Yeah, I Like Beer" Video, Starring the Starting Pitchers

Country music singer Kevin Fowler released a music video for his single “Hell Yeah, I Like Beer” back on July 22.

The entire Red Sox starting rotation makes cameos in the video.

Yup…Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey and Tim Wakefield—all five of them sing their praises to booze.

Fowler’s video created a little buzz in Red Sox Nation when it was released.

However, it’s really now over two months down the road that Fowler’s video is really gaining press and momentum.

Look here. And here. And here. And here.

“I Like Beer” is getting all of the press it’s getting now, of course, with the infamous and now well documented revelation that all of these guys, save Wakefield, routinely retreated to the clubhouse during games in off days to throw back beers, chow down on fried chicken and play video games.

The irony is terrible and also way too easy. 

How can any Red Sox journalist resist the urge to reference Fowler’s video in any column about the alcohol-aided shortcomings of Boston’s starting pitching?

That Lackey and Beckett get the bulk of the screen time among the pitchers just adds fuel to the fire.

It’s truly all too perfect.

That said, I, and probably many other Sox fans, do think the beer-chicken-video-games story has become more than a bit overblown.

That said, Lackey, Beckett and Lester going lax on their conditioning probably did contribute to their personal and the team’s overall September shortcomings.

Point is, these guys’ clubhouse antics is just too good of a story to pass up.

And any good story needs a good name. 

A buddy and I have decided to forever call this incident “The Curse of the KFC.” 

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MLB Playoffs: Will the Boston Red Sox Use Tim Wakefield If He Gets 200th Win?

Tim Wakefield is the current fifth starter for the Boston Red Sox and would not be a starter if the MLB Playoffs started today. Wakefield is going for his 200th win yet again tonight, but getting this win does not mean he will gain a spot on the 2011 MLB Playoffs roster—or does it?

There are only 25 players on the active roster at a time until September when there are 40 allowed on a roster. In the MLB Playoffs, there are 25 players only per round and if someone gets hurt, then you can replace them with a player that was called up on or before August 31. This means you can replace a starter or bullpen relievers for each round if someone is pitching and/or batting terribly. Therefore, if the Boston Red Sox need a long reliever, then Tim Wakefield is their guy in the 2011 MLB Playoffs

Tim Wakefield can also be a great middle reliever and late-inning guy, but since he is a starter and a veteran I believe he should not have to earn a spot on the Playoff roster. He is one of those pitchers who can help a club whether going a third of an inning or going a complete game. The Boston Red Sox really need to believe the 45-year-old will help them win in the postseason.

Wakefield goes for win number 200 again Saturday night against the Kansas City Royals. He has tried four times for this milestone, is 0-2 in those starts and is left with the lead in a couple of them, but the bullpen has let the lead slip away.

The Boston Red Sox rely on Tim Wakefield a lot and his 200th win would mean the world to them as much as it does to him. He has played with the Sox since 1995 and has done everything for them and even had 15 saves in 1999.

According to mlb.com, he has 185 wins with the Red Sox and is seven wins away from Cy Young and Roger Clemens, who both have 192 wins, for the most in team history. He will most likely retire once he ties or passes them. His record for the 2011 season is 6-5.

Do you think Wake should pitch in the 2011 Boston Red Sox playoff run?

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Justin Ruggiano: Outfielder Finally Making Mark for Tampa Bay Rays

He didn’t look ready. It was in the latter stages of the Rays‘ pennant run of 2008, and Tim Wakefield was on the mound against Tampa Bay.

Justin Ruggiano had never seen something as bizarre as the knuckleball Wakefield was throwing in his direction. He couldn’t adapt and ended up with the awful honor of the “golden sombrero” (four strikeouts, three verses Wakefield) against the veteran, though the Rays managed to pull out a win.

As I headed back home from the Trop, many different thoughts went through my head. One had me wondering if Ruggiano would ever make a real impact at the major league level or if he would just remain the 25-25 threat in Triple-A.

The question has finally been answered. Many complained when Ruggiano was called up over Brandon Guyer and Desmond Jennings in late May. No one can snicker at the move now.

Before a rather disappointing outing last night, Ruggiano was hitting at a .340 clip in the first 19 games he had appeared in. His hustle has remained, but the seemingly lack of confidence that he had in 2008 is gone.

The talent was always there for him to produce at the top level, and though he may be a late-bloomer at 29, the Rays need the extra offensive help now more than ever.

Ruggiano also has had his share of “web gem” plays in his time in Tampa Bay, including his recent robbing of a home run in Baltimore. He’s getting much better jump on fly balls in the Trop, as well, no longer inexperienced in the oddly configured dome.

With there being a huge stock of outfield talent in the Rays’ organization, Ruggiano was left off the 40-man roster to begin the season, making it a surprise to most that he was called up.

When he was dropped from the 40-man roster, different teams toyed with the idea of adding him off of waivers, but luckily for the Rays, everybody passed on the Texas A&M grad.

So now he is getting fair share of time in left field, splitting it up with Sam Fuld, with many wondering when, or if, he will go cold.

He may still be considered a “fringe” player, but Ruggiano has made a mark with the big club and has proved himself as a strong asset to the team.

Whether he remains for the rest of the season, stays for years to come or is sent elsewhere when Jennings is finally called up, he has shown that he belongs.

He stepped up to the plate on the 14th of this month, well over two-and-a-half years since his “golden sombrero” game, and there was Tim Wakefield, standing on the mound against him once again. Except this time, the roles were reversed.

Ruggiano blasted a home run over the left field wall, sparking the Rays’ victory over rival Boston. He had truly arrived. Not bad for a 25th-round pick that no one picked off of waivers. Not bad at all.

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Boston Red Sox: Alfredo Aceves, Tim Wakefield Have Been Up to the Task

Amid all of the furor of heightened expectations leading up to the 2011 season, the BIG question that surrounded the Red Sox was how the No. 4 and No. 5 starters would perform. John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka were both coming off rough 2010 campaigns, and while Red Sox Nation had high hopes for a championship season, those aspirations hinged on the back end of the rotation.

Should either of them fail, or be felled by injury, the ballclub knew it would be able to turn to knuckleballer Tim Wakefield…but, in truth, there were almost as many questions about him as there were about Lackey and Matsuzaka. He had a 4-12 record and 5.61 earned run average dating back to the end of the 2009 season.

Many pundits thought you could stick a fork in him. In addition, he had sulked throughout most of the 2010 season, openly challenging the wisdom and decision-making of manager Terry Francona and General Manager Theo Epstein for determining that he should NOT be a part of the regular starting rotation.

Wakefield had appeared to be petulant and selfish, placing his desire to set the club record for wins ahead of the well-being of the ballclub. So when his chances came, he appeared unprepared…and his performance suffered accordingly.

I was among those who was very critical of the knuckleballer for his posturing. I believed his struggles had largely been due to the combination of his age and the physical demands of taking a regular turn in the rotation. I believed then (and still believe) that at this age he is better off in the role he has filled this season, as it controls his workload over the course of a long season and should enable him to remain strong through the end of September.

The difference between last year and this year is that THIS year he seemed much more accepting of his role, and appears to have prepared himself for it—both mentally and physically.

This winter, the front office determined it would retain Wakefield’s services—even as others questioned whether he should remain on the roster—but it also developed a contingency plan in case the kuckleballer’s attitude waned or that he failed to cut the proverbial mustard.

In February, the organization signed former Yankees right-hander Alfredo Aceves. It was a signing I applauded LOUDLY, and I predicted it would prove to be the best “unheralded” signing of the offseason, not just by the Sox but by ANY team in baseball. I still feel that way.

So when both Lackey and Matsuzaka went down almost simultaneously a week ago, Plan B and C were concurrently put in place. Aceves went into the rotation. Wakefield went into the rotation. And the results have been BRILLIANT!

Both pitchers have given the ballclub as much as anyone could have ever expected or hoped for.

Aceves is now 2-0, 2.22, on the season. In his first start of the year, against the Cubs last Saturday night, he left the game with his club ahead 2-1 after five innings…it’s not his fault Matt Albers blew up in the eighth inning en route to a disheartening defeat. On Thursday, in his second start, he allowed one run on five hits and two walks (with six Ks) in six innings. This time the bullpen couldn’t surrender the lead as the Sox pummeled the Tigers, 14-1.

According to my math, he has allowed two runs on eight hits and five walks in 11 innings over those two starts. THAT is more than the club could have expected out of Lackey or Matsuzaka, and it points to the fact that he may have found a permanent place in the rotation, at least in the short term.

While some people are surprised by his success, I am not. He is 16-1, 3.03, in parts of four seasons in the major leagues. He has EARNED a chance to stick in this rotation, even after Dice-K returns.

Not to be outdone, Wakefield has been equally brilliant since joining the rotation on Sunday. He has been solid all season. Aside from a pair of outings in which he allowed a total of 10 earned runs, he has allowed just seven earned runs in his other 11 appearances. In his two starts this week, he registered back-to-back wins for the first time since 2009, allowing just three earned runs in 13.2 IP.

If both pitchers continue to perform anywhere close to their recent levels, it seems to me Aceves gets the first shot to replace the enigmatic Matsuzaka in the rotation. After all, he was signed for that purpose.

I continue to believe Wakefield best serves the ballclub in the swingman role, and that the role will preserve his health and prolong his effectiveness. He obviously doesn’t agree. It will be interesting to see how he responds when or if Aceves gets the nod and he gets placed back in his previous role.

THAT response will tell us a lot about the kind of person he is (sadly, admittedly, I expect him to respond in much the same manner he did last spring, which could serve as a distraction).

In the interim, both pitchers have been spectacular. Plan B and Plan C have (thus far) worked out precisely as the club, and Red Sox Nation, had hoped.

In spite of the club’s 2-10 start to the season, the Red Sox find themselves in first place this morning, and if Aceves and Wakefield keep pitching like this it is possible the team may never surrender its ‘top dog’ status as the summer winds its way to a potentially-glorious October and November.

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