Sources: Wakefield's roster spot is safe

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Sources: Wakefield's roster spot is safe

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla -- Friday morning, responding to a question about Alfredo Aceves and Tim Wakefield, Red Sox manager Terry Francona made a reference to some "tough decisions'' the team will have to make to cut down to 25 players for Opening Day.

That, in turn, quickly led to speculation that Wakefield, by far the longest-tenured Red Sox player and the oldest player in baseball, could have his roster spot in jeopardy.

And when Wakefield followed that runaway speculation with a poor outing Friday night against the Tampa Bay Rays -- three innings, six runs allowed, four homers given up -- the speculation gained further monentum.

However, two club sources said Friday that Wakefield's spot in the Boston bullpen was safe, especially given the team's lack of starting pitching depth.

Wakefield, too, though unhappy with his start, showed no evidence that he was worried about making the team. Asked about the significance of a rough start at this point in his career, Wakefield responded evenly: "Nothing. I was just trying to get my pitch count up. I would have liked to do it in more than three innings, but it didn't happen that way.''

In explaining the homer barrage, Wakefield blamed poor mechanics.

"I was rushing to the plate a little bit and left some balls up,'' he said. "In the second inning, I got two outs. Then, I came out of my delivery and left the ball up and couldn't rebound after that...You want to pitch well, obviously, but my biggest concern is staying healthy all spring, building my innings up and getting ready to pitch when April comes around.''

Wakefield, who came into the outing with a 2.70 ERA in three previous appearances, said his mechanics previously been fine this spring.

"Absolutely...absolutely,'' he said. "I feel like I've been throwing the ball very, very well...better than some springs in the past. Until today...I knew what I was doing wrong, I just couldn't stop it. I wasn't staying back long enough.''

Wakefield has made no secret of the fact that he would prefer to start rather than relieve. But even in his role as the team's long man in the bullpen, he could prove valuable since the team has a lack of other options beyond the starting five of Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Even last year, when Wakefield was bumped from the rotation when Matsuzaka came off the disabled list on May 1, Wakefield still got 15 starts over the remainder of the season.

"Yeah, I think so,'' said Wakefield. "I don't have a problem doing whatever. I don't think past tomorrow, to be honest with you. Whenever I'm called upon to try to get outs, whether it's in relief or as a starter, I"ll do my best when asked.

"I can't think about (the fact that) I'm going to get 20 starts this year for sure. There's no guarantees. I'm just trying to get myself prepared for Opening Day and see what happens after that.''

With Felix Doubront (elbow soreness) and Junichi Tazawa (recovering from Tommy John surgery 11 months ago), the Sox are thin in emergency starters beyond Wakefield and Aceves.

"That's always been in that bag,'' said bench coach DeMarlo Hale of Wakefield's versatility, "knowing that you can go to him if one of the starters happens to go down for a DL stint. He's pitched long enough as far as the preparation he goes through. He knows what it takes.

"When you go into the season, knowing that you have that versatility, there's a little comfort that comes with that. Hopefully, we don't have injuries. But at this level and in this business, you have to be aware of things happening and have other options. We know what he's capable of. He knows what it takes to win and he will do what it takes to help the team win. It's good to have him back there if something happens, trust me.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

David Ortiz re-enacts Boston movie scenes as part of charity video

David Ortiz re-enacts Boston movie scenes as part of charity video

As part of a charity promotion with Omaze, David Ortiz has made a video re-enacting scenes from Boston-set movies. 

The movies range from a classic -- "Good Will Hunting" -- to very good crime movies -- "The Departed, The Town" — to the just plain bad "Fever Pitch," but all of the scenes are entertaining. Ortiz plays every part in each scene, often playing to characters interacting with one another. 

At the end of the video, a link is given to Omaze.com/papi, which gives fans the opportunity to enter a drawing to attend his jersey retirement ceremony by donating. Proceeds go to the David Ortiz Children’s Fund and the Red Sox Foundation. 

The David Ortiz Children Fund aims to help children in New England and the Dominican Republic who are born with congenital heart failure. 
 

Drellich: When will Red Sox players hold themselves accountable?

Drellich: When will Red Sox players hold themselves accountable?

BOSTON -- Whether John Farrell is managing the Red Sox next week or next month, keep an eye on player accountability.

Five years ago, Bobby Valentine was supposed to be the disciplinarian that stopped babying the clubhouse. Disaster followed, largely because Valentine was a terrible fit for this group, his approach extreme and dated.

But this year’s team makes you wonder whether a distilled sense of Red Sox entitlement lingers.

At Fenway Park, is the message from the veteran voices one that includes a sense of public accountability for not just the manager, but the players as well?

In FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal’s piece on Farrell, Rosenthal noted “some players, but not all, believe that [Farrell] does not stand up for them strongly enough to the media.”

Those unnamed players Rosenthal cites need a mirror, badly. Or at least a glance around the room.

Where’s the guy in the clubhouse standing up to the media with any consistency? There’s no voice that regularly shields the younger, less experienced guys from tough but expected questions after losses.

Dustin Pedroia gets dressed and leaves the clubhouse faster than Chris Sale will get the ball back and throw it Wednesday. 

Pedroia mentioned something about whale poop in Oakland over the weekend. He can be very funny, but he’s not exactly keen to deliver calming, state-of-the-union addresses — not with frequency, anyway.

Farrell, of course, has been criticized for doing the opposite of what the FOX Sports story noted. The manager was mobbed on social media last year for saying David Price had good stuff on a day Price himself said the opposite.

The premise here is amusing, if you think about it.

Follow: Players are upset that the manager does not do a better job lying about their performance. And this, in turn, affects how players play?

Get a grip.

The public isn’t dumb. If you’re bad, you’re bad, and you’re going to hear about it in Boston. No manager changes that.

Whichever Sox player seeks more protection from Farrell really needs a reminder from a teammate to play better.

Too often, some of the most famous, prominent athletes can be sensitive, and over-sensitive. Look at how LeBron James handled a question about what led to his poor performance in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

It is true that some players question Farrell’s leadership, as Rosenthal reported. But it can also be difficult to separate questions of leadership from whining and grumbling that a manager isn’t providing said player more chances, more opportunities, even if undeserved.

How can Drew Pomeranz's unfounded dugout complaints be Farrell's fault?

The situation and player that make Farrell look the worst this year is Hanley Ramirez. The idea of him playing first base is gone, his shoulders apparently too screwed up to make that viable. 

Somehow, Ramirez made 133 starts at first base last year. One has to wonder how all of a sudden Ramirez can barely play a single game. 

If he’s hurt, he’s hurt. But the Sox didn’t come out of the gate in spring training and say, first base is out of the picture because of his health. They kept saying there was hope he'd be able to play in the field.

If Ramirez is being obstinate, he’s in turn making Farrell look weak. And, more importantly, hurting his team.

What would Ramirez be doing if David Ortiz hadn't retired? Spending the year on the disabled list?

Farrell can pack up his bags today, tomorrow or after the next full moon. The players would still need to take it upon themselves to do what’s best for their team: to focus on what matters.

If they’ve forgotten, that’s about performing up to their abilities and being accountable for themselves -- publicly and privately -- when they don’t.

A manager’s quote in the media doesn’t change whether you’re playing bad baseball.