Agent says Wakefield wants to finish career with Sox

Agent says Wakefield wants to finish career with Sox
November 17, 2011, 12:08 am
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MILWAUKEE -- The agent for free agent pitcher Tim Wakefield said Wednesday that his client "absolutely" plans to continue his career and the veteran knuckleballer wants to finish his career with the Red Sox.

"Our hope is that it's with the Red Sox," said Barry Meister. "We expressed that to them. Tim feels strongly that he can still pitch and pitch effectively, whether it's in a starter's role or in that hybrid. And I just think that If he didn't (continue to) pitch for the Boston Red Sox, it would be a shame."

Meister has had a few conversations with Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, but understands the Sox have bigger issues with which to deal, not the least of which is hiring a manager to replace Terry Francona.

"We'll keep the lines of communication open," said Meister.

Wakefield, 45, has pitched for the Sox since 1995. Last season, he was 7-8 with a 5.12 ERA in 32 games, 23 of them starts. He won his 200th career game on his ninth attempt in September.

Wakefield, said Meister, "loves being a Red Sox. But he loves being a baseball player. And if for some reason, they don't think he can (pitch), well, then he's going to win 15 games somewhere else and show them that, once again, they've underestimated him. But he loves Boston. Whether it's the Wakefield charity or the Jimmy Fund, that's his community and he feels like he can help this club. He feels like he had unfinished business. He wants to win. He wants to put another ring on his finger. He wants a parade. He's from Boston now, right?"

Part of Wakefield's motivation may be to come back and become the franchise's all-time winningest pitcher. He has 186 career wins with the Sox, six shy of the mark shared by Cy Young and Roger Clemens.

"But I don't want to lose sight of the fact that he wants to win another World Series," said Meister.

Meister said he's already fielded calls from other teams with an interest and hinted that if returning to the Red Sox wasn't an option, the National League would be a likely landing spot.

"I've done some research," said Meister, "and knuckleball pitchers that have changed leagues from the American League to the National League, I think it's 13 out of 15 in the last 40 years have lowered their earned run average by a run and a quarter or more.

"It's a huge difference, as the league takes a year to adjust. I have no doubt, if that's what he ends up doing, he'll have a geometric success because they'll be seeing a pitch they haven't seen before."

Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is with the NL's New York Mets, but throws the pitch with less regularity and at a different speed than does Wakefield.