Agent says Wakefield wants to finish career with Sox

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Agent says Wakefield wants to finish career with Sox

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.

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told CSNNE.com before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to CSNNE.com “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”