Wakefield's struggles continue

Baldelli takes turn at third

September 30, 2009, 10:50 PM

By: Amy K. Nelson

BOSTON -- Tim Wakefield walked out to the bullpen with his limp, then headed to the mound at Fenway once more. He didn't last very long, the discomfort he's feeling apparent to just about everyone. Whether he'll walk back out on that mound again in unknown.

"I don't want to give up on this team," Wakefield said.

It's clear he hasn't, even though he gave up five runs and seven hits in three innings in a 12-0 rout to the Blue Jays on Wednesday night. Wakefield, at 43 years old, with an injured disc in his back that will need surgery this offseason, looks to be running out of time for this season.

With a $4 million club option for next year, his future is unknown. A reliever, starter and leader, he's done just about whatever's been asked of him during his 15 seasons in Boston. Even if that means pitching with pain, in a meaningless game during the last week of the season.

"It's tough," said manager Terry Francona. "He wanted to stay in and pitch, which I respect a lot, I didn't think that was in his best interest. So we got him out of there."

The loss snapped Wakefield's personal 13-game unbeaten streak at home, his last loss coming on Aug. 31, 2008 against the White Sox. It also was his shortest outing in over a year, and it dropped him to 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA in his four starts since coming off the disabled list.

But that doesn't mean Wakefield is doing this for naught. And it doesn't mean he doesn't have a desire to play in October.

"He's a guy who definitely wants to be there," said Mike Lowell. "You don't want a token guy; I think he wants to be a contributor."

Lowell was speaking from experience. Last year he had a degenerative hip that needed surgery. It was painful to watch him walk, even more painful to see him try and field his position. The same goes for Wakefield.

"It's hard for me to obviously cover first," said Wakefield, who fell to 11-5 with a 4.58 ERA this year. "And it's hard for me to field my position."

With the Red Sox pitching staff giving up 19 runs over its last two games entering Wednesday, even a few innings from Wakefield was needed.

"Tim has always been a guy who'll do whatever it takes. Period," Jason Varitek said. "He's having to go through a lot just to be out there."

Baldelli at third
Rocco Baldelli was told to grab a glove, grab a cup and play third base, moving from right field in the seventh inning. So he borrowed both from Kevin Youkilis and trotted out to the left side of the infield, a geographic area he hasn't roamed in since he was 12 years old.

"I was a little surprised," Baldelli said.

For good reason: it was his first appearance at any infield position in his career. Baldelli said he took grounders at third base a few times when he played for Tampa Bay, but the most he's done here is a few grounders at first.

"I wanted them to hit me one," Baldellli said. "No luck. But it's in the book. They can't take it away now."

Quick hits
Joey Gathright broke up a potential no-hitter for Roy Halladay in the sixth inning. With one out, Gathright lined a single to left field. Gathright had two of Boston's three hits, Baldelli the other ... Dusty Brown pitched the ninth inning. Brown is a catcher, which made him the third position player to pitch for the Red Sox this season, breaking their club mark of two. It also marked the first time a catcher ever pitched for Boston in the franchise's history ... The Red Sox lost their sixth straight game, tied for the longest losing streak of the season.

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