Tim Wakefield has proclaimed himself ready to rejoin the Red Sox rotation. The longest tenured member of the Red Sox was in Gwinnett, Georgia on Saturday night and worked three and two thirds innings in a 10-1 loss to the Braves. Wakefield, on the disabled list since mid-July, gave up 2 runs and 3 hits. He walked one and struck out 3 hitters. After the game I spoke with the 43 year old American League All Star.
How did you feel tonight?
Oh, I felt good. I was able to throw a lot of strikes. I felt good enough.
Anything ailing you after your outing?
Nothing’s gotten worse, nothing’s gotten really better. For me this is a huge step to getting back to action in the Big Leagues.
How did it feel to be back on the mound after a month or so?
It felt good. A little awkward at first. I did throw a simulated game at home last week. I was able to get the rust off a little bit. It was nice to be able to come down here and face live hitters in a live game situation.
How anxious are you to get back in the (Red Sox) rotation?
Very anxious. It’s hard to sit on the bench and watch what was going on there for a while. The guys have started to swing the bats again and I am looking forward to getting back there and contributing again.
When will you back with the Sox?
I think they’re aiming for Friday against the Yankees. Based on their schedule with a day off Monday, I think that’s when I’ll slide in there. It’s a huge series and we’re trying to catch them right now. After what they did to us in New York, I’d like some payback.
What are your recollections of the PawSox and McCoy Stadium from your stint in 1995?
It was a lot of fun while I was there. I know they’ve redone the stadium. I was telling roving instructor Victor Rodriguez that he was playing third base for the PawSox when I was there. It’s the first time I’ve worn the PawSox uniform since 1995 and it’s kind of special to be able to put it back on again.
You’ve continued the tradition of buying the postgame “spread” for your minor league teammates. Tell me about the menu.
Chris Scott of the Capitol Grill in Boston made arrangements for the Capitol Grill in Atlanta to come up here…I’ll treat the guys to a nice spread- Filet Mignon and some lobster mac and cheese. Hopefully, we’ll have some good eats tonight.
You received a standing ovation and tipped your cap to the crowd as you left the field. How did that feel?
It was a great feeling. I think there were a lot of Red Sox fans in the stands. I appreciate RJ taking me out in the middle of the inning. To look up and see the fans standing was special.
Did you fight RJ about coming out after reaching your pitch count?
I wanted to, but I knew (Red Sox pitching coach) John Farrell wouldn’t be happy if I went over my pitch count.
Given that the Braves faced Charlie Zink (another knuckleballer) the night before, were you concerned at all?
No. I think Charlie and I, we throw the same pitch, but it’s different. Mine’s not any better than Charlies’ but I think mine has a little more depth. Charlie’s had a successful career at Triple A the last couple of years. The fact that he pitched last night (Friday) didn’t bother me facing them again.
Did you ever envision your current status in Red Sox Nation when you were a young guy struggling to make it?
No. Not at all. It’s been a huge blessing for me. This is my fifteenth season with the Sox and it’s special. Being mentioned with guys like Roger Clemens and Cy Young- trying to catch their records for wins and starts. It’s pretty special. It says a lot about longevity and dealing with adversity. I’ve dealt with a lot of stuff throughout the course of my career and I’ve never quit.
What did it mean to you to make your first All Star team at age 42?
That was probably the best thing that’s ever happened to me in my career besides winning the two World Series. I waited for such a long period of time and finally got recognized, got the nod…I told (A.L. manager) Joe Maddon I didn’t really care if I pitched. I would have loved to, but he had to present a 16 inning plan to the commissioner and I was the only guy with enough rest that could give him multiple innings late in the game. I told him I was just happy to be there and I honestly mean that. It didn’t bother me a bit that I didn’t pitch. To make my first All Star team at 42 years old is pretty special.
The PawSox had a jersey made with your #49 on it but you were wearing a #29 jersey. What happened?
The “49” jersey was a size 52 or 54. It was too big.
How important was it to have George Kottaras here as your catcher?
It was big. Not to take anything away from Dusty Brown or Mark Wagner because they both have experience catching Charlie (Zink).