Haggerty: 'Wake Watch' now in full effect

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Haggerty: 'Wake Watch' now in full effect

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
SEATTLE The mythic sentiment and romantic chase in securing another career milestone probably wore off for level-headed Tim Wakefield about two weeks ago.

The 45-year-old knuckleballer freely admitted earlier this month that notching 200 career wins was an important milestone in his noteworthy baseball body of work, and its an important piece when considering exactly why the pitcher is still active as the oldest player in all of Major League Baseball.

That little fact of Wakefield's life really hasnt changed at all.

But now that the creaky right-hander has come up empty in four straight starts for the Sox looking to bathe in a little baseball immortality, the quest for win No. 200 seems much more like a trip to the dentists office that Wakefield just wants to get out of the way as quickly as possible.

On a day when the Sox dropped to a game ahead of the the idle Yankees amid a dreary rain-out in the Bronx, Wakefields focus was trained much more on dropping a game than hoisting another milestone trophy on his mantle. Wake ended up notching his 33rd career complete game in defeat a good, healthy number for the current era of baseball but a far cry from the mind-blowing 275 career complete games spun by Cy Young during his Red Sox career.

The only hard hit ball against the knuckler in eight innings was the solo homer cracked by Casper Wells in the sixth inning, but all that mattered was the final result thats been the same in three out of his last four starts. There have been some nice consolation prizes, but the big enchilada has escaped Wakefield.

Im just trying to go out there and give quality starts and quality innings, said Wakefield. The results arent what I wanted it to be, but I was able to go out there and give eight innings. Id like to get it out of the way, but winning 200 isnt weighing on my mind to the point where Im pressing.

Wakefield was reminded by the traveling Sox media about the troubles that Hall of Fame left field legend Carl Yastrzemski had in securing hit No. 3000 at the ripe age of 40 as he went hitless in 13 straight at bats before finally nabbing it with a ground ball dribbler against the Yankees.

It was somewhat mockingly referred to as Yaz Watch by the Knights of the Keyboard more than 30 years ago, and Wakefield was looking to avoid his personal quest going down in the same fashion.

Is there a Wake watch now? asked a bemused Wakefield.

Wakefields latest speed bump on the way to 200 wins arrived in Seattle on Sunday afternoon as he pitched a complete game, but allowed nine hits and five runs in a 5-3 loss at Safeco Field.

The Sox never held the lead in the game, and an iffy safe call at second base in the bottom half of the third inning on a Jed Lowrie force play assisted in things getting out of hand for both Wakefield and the Sox.

It all started with a full count, leadoff walk to Casper Wells as so many troublesome rallies do, and then it all went south from there. A pair of singles by Jack Wilson and Kyle Seager plated a single run, and then Ed Hickox totally butchered a force out at second base on an Ichiro grounder that really flung the run-scoring doors open for the Mariners.

I dont even know how it all unfolded," said Wakefield, who seemed stunned that the official scorer slapped Lowrie with an error on a double play ball. "A leadoff walk that I thought was strike three, and after that I was just trying to survive. They ended up scoring three runs.

Wakefields catcher, on the other hand, was still running pretty hot about the pair of calls that went against the Sox in the first few innings and contributed to a 3-0 deficit. A seemingly harmless Dustin Pedroia grounder in the first inning that pulled first baseman Mike Carp off the bag was called out without a peep from the Sox dugout, but the Sox backstop noticed it all.

I thought Wakefield threw the ball well," Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "He had one inning . . . well, its hard to explain. He had one inning where nothing seemed to go right for us. Its one of those things where it was obvious that Jed Lowrie turned two and had the guy at second. Pedroia was safe at first in the first inning in my opinion, so there were a couple of things that kind of aggravated me a little bit.

Wakefield was happy with the way his knuckleball danced in the crisp Pacific Northwest air, but he also knows that its less about individual achievements and more about results at this late date in the season. Hes now 0-2 with a 4.08 ERA with 19 strikeouts in the four starts where hes come up short of win No. 200, and the double century mark admittedly danced in his head the first couple of starts after 199.

In the first couple of starts yeah I was thinking about it," Wakefield said. "But now Im just trying to pitch quality starts and quality innings to help get us wins. Its getting to be the time of the year when its time to win games.

The Wakefield quest for 200 wins continues next week in Kansas City with a tilt against the Royals, so stay tuned for the next chapter: it will bring either adulation or frustration to the elder statesmen of Major League Baseball.

It might also bring a conclusion to Wake Watch 2011.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

White Sox suspend Chris Sale over uniform flap

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White Sox suspend Chris Sale over uniform flap

CHICAGO - The Chicago White Sox were set to wear throwback uniforms. Chris Sale had other ideas.

The White Sox suspended their ace five days without pay for destroying collared throwback uniforms the team was scheduled to wear.

The team announced the punishment on Sunday after Sale was scratched from his scheduled start and sent home the previous night.

The suspension comes to $250,000 of his $9.15 million salary. He was also fined about $12,700 - the cost of the destroyed jerseys - according to a person familiar with the penalty. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.

"Obviously we're all extremely disappointed that we have to deal with this issue at this time both from the standpoint of the club as well as Chris' perspective," general manager Rick Hahn said. "It's unfortunate that it has become this level of an issue and potential distraction taking away from what we're trying to accomplish on the field."

Sale was not expected at the ballpark on Sunday. He is eligible to return Thursday against the crosstown Cubs at Wrigley Field, though Hahn would not say if the left-hander would start that game.

The Major League Baseball Players Association declined comment, spokesman Greg Bouris said. Sale could ask the union to file a grievance.

FanRag Sports first reported Sale was protesting the 1976-style jerseys, which were navy and sported unusual collars on a hot and humid night.

Sale then cut up an unknown number of jerseys before the game and was told to leave the stadium. With not enough usable 1976 jerseys available, the White Sox wore white throwback uniforms from the 1983 season.

The incident comes with the White Sox in a tailspin after a 23-10 start and Sale's name circulating in trade rumors.

"The actions or behaviors of the last 24 hours does not change in any aspect, any respect, our belief that Chris Sale can help this club win a championship and win multiple championships," Hahn said. "It does not move the needle one iota in terms of his value to this club, his value to any other club that may be interested in his services or the likelihood of him being moved or kept whatsoever. None of that stuff is impacted at all by these events."

The incident does raise some questions in general about throwback uniforms, how players feel about them and whether they should be forced to wear jerseys that aren't comfortable - particularly starting pitchers.

"If I'm playing with Chris Sale I want him to pitch," Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez said. "If he wants to play with no shirt, we play with no shirt. I just want him to pitch."

New York Yankees pitcher Chasen Shreve said: "Pitchers like their stuff. Me, it doesn't bother me, but for him, obviously it does. It's crazy. I don't think I'm that bad."

White Sox pitcher James Shields wouldn't comment on whether players should be made to wear throwback jerseys. But he did say: "I don't really mind the throwbacks. I haven't had any issues with that."

Manager Robin Ventura said players occasionally wearing uniforms they don't like comes with the job.

"But you wear it," he said. "If you want to rip it after, you can rip it up after. I've seen guys rip it up after."

Hahn said throwback uniforms the White Sox wore last season were a bit baggy so the team took measurements in spring training so they would fit the players better. He also mentioned the money the uniforms generate.

"Part of the element of being in position to win a championship is the revenue side of the operation and respect for their reasonable requests to increase revenue," Hahn said.

This wasn't the first flare-up involving the 27-year-old Sale, who is known for his competitive streak and strict training regimen.

He was openly critical of team executive Ken Williams during spring training when he said Drake LaRoche, the son of teammate Adam LaRoche, would no longer be allowed in the clubhouse. Adam LaRoche retired as a result, and Sale hung the LaRoches' jerseys in his locker.

He was also suspended five games by Major League Baseball last season for his role in a brawl at Kansas City that started with a flare-up between teammate Adam Eaton and the Royals' Yordano Ventura. Sale went to the Royals clubhouse after he got tossed and was seen pounding on the door.

Hahn said the punishment was unrelated to previous incidents. He also said the two had a "very candid" meeting in his office with Sale after the pitcher had some exchanges with staff members in the clubhouse and that both "expressed remorse." They spoke again on Sunday.

"At that point last night Chris stood by his actions," Hahn said. "Part of what makes Chris great, part of what makes him elite, is his passion and commitment. We've seen that sometimes spill out from between the white lines. Yesterday was one of those instances and it unfortunately led to events that required discipline."