Wakefield ready to start fresh in 2011

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Wakefield ready to start fresh in 2011

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Tim Wakefield has spent 16 seasons in a Red Sox uniform -- making him, by far, the longest tenured player on the club -- and it's safe to say that last year was his most frustrating since coming to Boston.

Wakefield won just four games, his lowest victory total of his 18-year career, and posted a 5.34 ERA, his highest since 2000. Splitting time between serving as long man in the bullpen and occasional spot starter, Wakefield was unhappy -- sometimes obviously so -- with his role.

But a few weeks from the start of another season and his spot on the staff no more defined, Wakefield Thursday vowed to take a different approach in 2011.

"It was what it was,'' said Wakefield of last season, "and I'm looking forward to a fresh start in 2011. I'm keeping more of an open mind as to what my role might be and kind of accepted it. We'll go forward and see what happens.

"I want to try to contribute to us winning another World Series championship before I retire . . . Things are more known than it was last year. I don't want to dwell on last year and I want to look past that and accept whatever role is given to me.''

Acceptance took some time for Wakefield, but with the benefit of the last four months, Wakefield has come to deal with the adjustment.

"It's tough to accept change,'' he said before the start of the 72nd annual Boston Baseball Writers Awards dinner, "especially coming off the season I had in 2009 when I made the All-Star team and pretty much sacrificed the whole second half with a back injury. It's hard. Every athlete will tell you they want to be in that starting position and help the club win.

"You just try to get through the season as emotionally unscathed as possible and sometimes that's hard to accomplish. You have to go through the mental ups-and-downs of a six-month season. We were able to get through that last year and I look forward to 2011. Having more of an open mind for what's in store and what can happen, I'll have a little better perspective on things.''

As spring training draws closer, the Red Sox' rotation seems set with Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka all returning.

Wakefield hasn't discussed his role on the 2011 staff yet with Terry Francona, but expects it to be mostly unchanged. He'll pitch in relief when the Sox need some length out of their bullpen, and be available to fill in should the rotation encounter injuries or performance issues.

"Anything can happen,'' said Wakefield. "It's one of those things, when you're in a competitive market like we are here in Boston and competing in the American League East, you want to make sure you have (pitching) in reserve.''

After the addition of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler, Wakefield labeled the 2011 Sox ''one of the best teams I've seen on paper. I've seen some good ones in my tenure here, but this is going to be exciting.''

While adding a third World Series ring is his ultimate goal, there are personal milestones for which to aim. Wakefield is just seven wins away from career victory No. 200 and though last year hurt his chances to become the franchise's all-time winningest pitcher -- Wakefield has 179; Cy Young and Roger Clemens are tied for the record currently at 192 -- he hasn't totally given up hope of topping that.

"Still might be -- you never know,'' said Wakefield with a broad smile. "I'm still wearing a uniform . . . It's a big motivator for me, especially in the offseason trying to get ready and knowing what lies ahead. There's a lot of factors that motivate me to continue to play and wear a Red Sox uniform.''

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

Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

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Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

BOSTON - Brian Johnson had quite a turnaround in his second time on Fenway Park's mound.

Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

The 26-year-old left-hander became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

"The last time I walked off the mound here was 2012 and I made two pitches," Johnson said. "Today I went nine innings. Today was pretty cool."

Johnson left Triple-A for a little over a month last season to get treatment for an anxiety issue.

"Obviously with some stuff that I've been gone through in my career, it's an awesome feeling" he said.

But despite the stellar outing, Johnson was optioned back to Triple-A after the game.

"That's the reality of the game," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We had a chance to congratulate him and yet option him back to Pawtucket, with David Price coming here Monday."

Brought up from the minors for the start, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. His only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

"Their guy threw the ball over the plate. He threw strikes," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "I won't take anything away from what he did, but we're not swinging the bat very well."

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

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Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

BOSTON - Brian Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway Park, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

Brought up from Triple-A Pawtucket, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. The 26-year-old left-hander's only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: RHPs Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez, both on the DL with right shoulder inflammation, threw bullpen sessions. Hernandez said he "felt really good."... LHP James Paxton (strained forearm) is set to come off the DL and pitch at home Wednesday.

Red Sox: Pedroia was back at second base after getting Friday off to rest his sore left knee and not play on a wet field. He was hit by a pitch on the right forearm his first time up and went 1 for 3. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval, on the DL with a sprained right knee, was expected to play nine innings Saturday night in a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket. Manager John Farrell didn't rule out that he could be activated next week.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Christian Bergman (1-2, 6.30 ERA) gave up 10 runs and 14 hits over four innings in a 10-1 loss Tuesday at Washington.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (3-4, 4.35) has gone at least six innings in eight of nine starts.