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Thursday, September 22, 2005
Updated: September 23, 8:36 PM ET
Red Sox's Foulke shut down for season

Associated Press

BALTIMORE -- Boston Red Sox closer Keith Foulke is done for the year, victimized by two painful knees that limited his effectiveness for the defending World Series champions.

Keith Foulke
Relief Pitcher
Boston Red Sox
43 5 5 18 34 5.91

While Foulke had his knees examined in Arizona on Friday, the Red Sox prepared to finish the season without him.

"The signs are pointing to that he may not pitch again," manager Terry Francona said before Boston's game against the Baltimore Orioles. "We will certainly go through hoops to see what we can do."

Foulke preserved all four victories in the World Series sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals last year, but this year he's 5-5 with a 5.91 ERA and four blown saves.

The right-hander had arthroscopic surgery on July 7 to repair cartilage in his left knee. He missed two months while recovering, and hasn't pitched in a save situation since returning from the disabled list Sept. 1.

"In all reality I probably wasn't going to be able to help the team win this year anyway with the lack of pitching, not feeling 100 percent. We just tried to make a decision where I'll be ready to go in '06," Foulke said on his weekly radio appearance on WEEI-AM in Boston, according to a transcript of the interview posted on The Boston Globe's Web site.

Francona said he spoke with Foulke, who told the manager that he wouldn't be able to return to the form he displayed last season, when had a 2.17 ERA and 32 saves.

"He acknowledged that to me," Francona said. "He was great. He said, 'I know what you're trying to do and I appreciate it, but it's hard for me to get sharp. I got to throw and I know I can't.'"

Francona will use Mike Timlin in the closer's role but will also rely on Jonathan Papelbon and will also use rookie Chris Hansen in the late innings.

"It's a little bit of a guessing game when you are using an unknown," Francona said. "I love his stuff. It's going to depend on the situation. So many variables."

Timlin was 7-3 with a 2.26 ERA and nine saves entering Friday's game.

"It won't really change anything I do. I was just kind of the bridge to the end of the season anyway," Timlin said. "But it won't be easy losing a talented relief pitcher like that."

It's been a difficult season for Foulke, whose struggle on the mound this season have been coupled with a personal problem he has alluded to but not described.

"My feeling on this whole season is it's almost a relief now that it's over," he said. "The last year of my life has pretty much been the worst year of my life, off the field, on the field. It's one of those deals that I'm glad it's over."