Wakefield still stuck on No. 199

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Wakefield still stuck on No. 199

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com Follow @dannypicard
BOSTON -- The pursuit isnt over. Tim Wakefield is still looking forhis 200th career win after Wednesday night.

The Red Sox defeated the Cleveland Indians in walk-offfashion at Fenway Park, but Wakefield left the game still stuck on 199victories.

After six innings of three-hit ball and a 3-2 lead enteringthe top of the seventh, things looked up for the veteran knuckleballer. ButWakefield led that seventh inning off by allowing a Lonnie Chisenhall double,putting the tying run in scoring position.

Wakefield retired the next two batters at the bottom ofClevelands order, but then allowed a game-tying ground-rule double to Indianslead-off hitter Ezequiel Carrera.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona surprised Wakefield bystrolling out to the mound to take him out of the game. Francona surprisedWakefield so much, that Wakefield had to see it with his own eyes, and turnedto the bullpen to make sure someone was definitely coming in to relieve him,after throwing just 99 pitches and needing only one more out to get out of theinning and hoping his offense could produce some runs to get him that 200thwin.

When asked after the game how disappointed he was to not getwin No. 200 on Wednesday night, Wakefield simply said, I made one bad pitch toCabrera, and that was it.

Wakefield later said, I was hoping I would stay in for onemore hitter, but I dont make the decisions here.

Lefty Randy Williams came in and walked left-hander JasonKipnis, but then struck out Asdrubal Cabrera to get out of the inning.

Still, at that point, even if the Red Sox offense exploded,Wakefield wouldnt have factored into the decision.

He pitched terrific, said Francona. Its hard. I knowwhats riding on the game and for him personally, but you kind of have to dowhat you think is right to win the game. Everybodys pulling for him to get thewin, including myself, and he really pitched well.

He hadnt given up a lot of hits and he was getting outs. Ifwe go to Ezequiel Carrera, theyre probably going to hit Matt LaPorta, so Ithought Wake deserved a chance to pitch. Once they tied it, all of a suddentheyve got a lefty Jason Kipnis theyre not going to hit for, so we go tothe bullpen.

Wakefield finished the game having allowed three runs onfive hits, two walks, and a home run, while striking out six in 6.2 innings.

While he was surprised to not get another shot at the finalout in the seventh, Wakefield did acknowledge that he was happy with the teamgetting the win, even if it meant he had to wait until his next start foranother crack at win No. 200.

Ya, I was satisfied, said Wakefield. I had good stuffagain tonight, and I was able to limit them to just one big inning when theyscored the two runs. Other than that, I kept us in the game into the seventhinning. We won. Thats the biggest thing. We won.

It is what it is, added Wakefield on not getting his 200thwin on Wednesday. I think the most important thing is to go out there and getquality innings for us to get into the postseason.

Obviously, we want him to get that 200th win, said Red Soxcatcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Thats a big milestone in a career. We had agood chance tonight. We were up by one, They got a good hit and scored a run .. . The wins the important thing, and Im sure if you ask him hell tell youthe same thing. Its an important milestone and were looking forward to himgetting it.@font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; a:link, span.MsoHyperlink color: blue; text-decoration: underline; a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed color: purple; text-decoration: underline; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1;

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

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].”

Sandoval’s offseason transformation doesn't guarantee he's Sox starting third baseman

Sandoval’s offseason transformation doesn't guarantee he's Sox starting third baseman

BOSTON - The weight room, as much as Instagram, has been Pablo Sandoval’s home in the offseason leading up to the 2017 season.

His change in diet and routine have clearly led to visible results, at least in terms of appearance. His play is yet to be determined. But his manager and teammates have taken notice.

“Compliments to Pablo,” John Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner. “He’s done a great job with the work that he’s put in, the commitment he’s made. He’s reshaped himself, that’s apparent. He knows there’s work to be done to regain an everyday job at third base. So, we’ll see how that unfolds. We’re not looking for him to be someone he’s not been in the past. Return to that level of performance.”

Farrell noted that Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge are the other two players in contention for time at third base and while others, such as prospect Rafael Devers, may get time there in the spring, those are the only three expected to compete for the job.

“The beauty of last spring is that there’s a note of competition in camp,” Farrell said. “And that was born out of third base last year [when Travis Shaw beat out Sandoval at the third base]. That won’t change.”

Sandoval's 2016 season ended after shoulder surgery in April. 

While the manager has to be cautiously optimistic, Sandoval’s teammates can afford to get their hopes up.

“Pablo is definitely going to bounce back,” Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com “Especially with the weight he’s lost and the motivation he has to prove a lot of people wrong, to prove the fans wrong.

“He’s been a great player for his whole career. He’s not a bad player based on one year. Playing in Boston the first year is tough, so, hopefully this year he’ll be better.”

Prior to Sandoval’s abysmal 2015, his first season in Boston, when he hit .245 with 47 RBI in 126 games, the 2012 World Series MVP was a career .294 hitter who averaged 15 home runs and 66 RBI a year.

If Bogaerts is right and Sandoval can be that player again, that will be a huge lift in filling in the gap David Ortiz left in Boston’s offense.