Wakefield taking it one win at a time

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Wakefield taking it one win at a time

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON Each time he puts another notch in the win column, Tim Wakefield takes a step closer to history.

His victory over the Blue Jays Wednesday night at Fenway Park was the 198th of his career. With two more wins, Wakefield would become the 108th pitcher in baseball history, and the 89th since 1900, to reach 200 wins.

The win also gave him 184 victories in a Sox uniform. He is now eight wins behind Roger Clemens and Cy Young for the teams all-time record.

His 96 wins at Fenway are second all-time behind Clemens 100. With each win, he also extends his lead among active pitchers.

But hes not thinking about those numbers for now.

Ill worry about that when the time comes, Wakefield said. I got to see where I fall after the All-Star break and go from there.

He went seven innings against the Blue Jays, giving up three runs on nine hits, as the Sox beat Toronto, 6-4, in the series finale. The Jays hit Wakefield early, getting six of their nine hits off him in the first three innings. But, staked to a three-run lead after the fourth, Wakefield settled down, allowing just one runner to third Travis Snider in the sixth on a double and a passed ball.

The results were obviously better later in the game, he said. I felt like I had good stuff in the first couple innings. A couple hits and they scored three runs, and after that I was able to settle down and make some adjustments.

Early on I thought that there were some balls that were up, and normally with Wake when theyre up, he gets hit, manager Terry Francona said. "He settled down, gave us what we needed. Hes been doing that. He has a way of doing that. He steps in and pitches professionally.

Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was charged with three passed balls in the game, a testament to just how much Wakefields knuckleball was moving.

It was dirty tonight, Saltalamacchia said. He was probably the best Ive seen him so far. He was controlling it well and even threw a couple of curveballs, as well, that struck some guys out.

I didn't know he can kind of throw that knuckleball wherever he wants it. I didn't know that. Hopefully Im going to start talking to him and see if he can hit my glove and make sure I dont have to do anything. Like against Yunel Escobar . . . Escobar was seeing the ball, handling the ball well, so his third at-bat we decided to try and throw as far out of the way as we could . . . Escobar didnt take them and then Wakefield threw a fastball and popped him out. So its impressive that he can throw those pitches and put them where he wants them.

With the bullpen pitching a combined 11 23 innings over the last two games, Wakefield wanted to be sure he got deep into this game.

Its very satisfying, he said. I knew I had to go deep in the game today even though we kind of had some backup with right-hander Scott Atchison getting called up today when Jon Lester went on the disabled list. But the bullpens been taxed pretty heavily the last couple days. Its something that as a starting pitcher you take a lot of pride in, to get deep in the game and preserve those guys for the next series.

It was Wakefields fifth quality start in 11 starts this season. Overall, he has appeared in 20 games, starting the season in the bullpen and then being pressed into starting duty as other starters went down with injuries.

I take a lot of pride in that, he said. It was my job coming into this year. Im getting an opportunity to try to help us win, whatever capacity that might be in. Very proud of the job Ive done so far.

The job hes done is not lost on those around him.

We told him this spring that thats what his role would be," Francona said. Unlike last year, he had a chance to prepare for that, even mentally. We knew there was going to be starts. Dont know how many. Still probably dont, but its certainly nice to have a guy that can step in like that. Every time he gets a win were thrilled for him, and us.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.

MacPherson: No sense in shelving Sandoval unless you have to

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MacPherson: No sense in shelving Sandoval unless you have to

Brian MacPherson calls in to Toucher & Rich to speak on the shoulder surgery Pablo Sandoval underwent, which will keep him out of use for the season.

McAdam: Sandoval's surgery just a temporary solution to Sox problem

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McAdam: Sandoval's surgery just a temporary solution to Sox problem

CHICAGO -- His left shoulder surgically repaired, Pablo Sandoval is now out of sight and out of mind for the Red Sox.
     
Travis Shaw, who beat out Sandoval for the third base job in the spring, is showing that the Sox made the right move with his play at third and his strong start at the plate.
     
Shaw may not be a natural third baseman, or even an above-average one. But his range is superior to that of Sandoval and his offensive production strong.
     
The move was addition by subtraction. Disregard the salaries attached to both players: the Red Sox got better -- not worse -- when Shaw became the starter and Sandoval the stand-in.
    
But the notion that the Red Sox have arrived at some permanent solution here is a false one.
     
Yes, Sandoval will be gone from Fenway, exiled to Florida to rehab his shoulder, and perhaps, reshape his physique.
     
But he's not really disappearing. He'll just be in hiding for a few months. And when spring training begins next February, Sandoval will be a problem all over again for the Red Sox.
     
This surgery -- beyond repairing Sandoval's mysteriously injured shoulder - can be seen as kicking the can down the road. Sandoval's not really going away.
     
When 2017 begins, the Red Sox will still owe him $58 million over the next three seasons ($17 million in 2017, $18 million each in 2018 and 2019 and a $5 million option buyout for 2020).
     
For that, the Red Sox will get a player coming off major surgery who's performance has been in decline for several seasons, who can play only one position, and despite nominally being a switch-hitter, can actually only hit lefthanded.
     
What a treasure.
     
Trimming one year of salary off the $95 million mega deal signed by Sandoval helps some, but it's really only a small step. There's still a lot of money owed to a player who will soon turn 30.
     
In the unlikely event that a player with that profile could interest another team, Sandoval will start have to prove that he's healthy next spring. No team is going to take on even a portion of that contract without having it demonstrated that Sandoval's shoulder is in working condition.
     
Could Sandoval then be pawned off elsewhere? Perhaps. But it will require the Red Sox to subsidize a significant portion of that contract to faciliate a trade.
     
Whatever that price may be -- half of the reminaining money? - the Red Sox should pay it. It's clear that Sandoval won't ever be a contrbuting player in Boston.
     
The Red Sox have Shaw, just 25, as their third baseman of the present and future. They have Hanley Ramirez to either handle first base or slide into the DH vacancy to be created by David Ortiz's retirement.
     
If the Sox want Ramirez to remain at first, they could seek a veteran slugger like Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion to fill the DH job.
     
Or, they could have Ramirez move to DH and promote Sam Travis to be their first baseman.
     
Whatever plan they select, there's no role for Sandoval beyond "aging, overpaid, limited role player.''
     
That's not in anyone's best interest. So until the Red Sox find a more permanent solution, don't be fooled: Sandoval remains a burden - financially and otherwise -- who will, eventually, end up elsewhere.