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Red Sox shutting Foulke down?

Reliever to have knee examined; Sox will then decide if his season is over

Reliever Keith Foulke flew to Boston from Tampa Bay instead of to Baltimore with the rest of the team, and will have his surgically repaired left knee re-evaluated by Dr. Thomas Gill, Red Sox officials told the Globe’s Gordon Edes today.

Boston sports radio station WEEI reported that the Sox were going to shut down Foulke for the season. While team officials insist no decision has been made, it would not come as a surprise that Foulke, who is openly expressed his unhappiness in Boston this season, would be done for the season.

Foulke, who had surgery on his left knee in July and never regained his form of 2004, has had a nightmare year. He has a 5.91 ERA and recently said he was looking forward to the offseason so he could be out of the Boston spotlight.

"After a while you get tired of hearing everybody's opinion on what you're doing wrong,'' Foulke said in a Sept. 17 San Francisco Chronicle article. "Last year it was, 'Glad you're here, glad to see you. Good luck this year, let's go. Bring it home for us.' Now this year so much is still thanking you for last year.

"People don't understand there's times when we want to be private. There's a lot of times people come up and they get in your business. ... It's one of the reasons that for next year I am relocating. I'm moving out of the city so I can be with myself a little more.''

Foulke has made six middle-relief appearances after coming off the disabled list in early September, giving up a total of three earned runs over a total of 6 2/3 innings. Manager Terry Francona seemed hesitant to return him to his closer’s role.

"I'd like to be a big part of this team and the playoffs aren't easy when they come," Foulke told the New York Daily News earlier this month. "You need good pitching. It's hard wanting to be the pitcher I know I am and have been, but not being able to perform like that.

"I don't know why I am not pitching (well)."

Foulke struggled out of the gate this season, and after a blown save at Fenway at the end of June (he was booed as he left the field), he rankled many in Red Sox Nation with the following comments:

''Boos?" Foulke said. ''Of course I heard it. And I'm not inviting them [the fans] to my World Series celebration either. They have all the right. They can boo, they can cuss me and tell me I [stink]. Go ahead. If they don't want me to do the job, tell them to tell management. I've done a lot of good for this team but, you know, let them boo."

''Are they going to keep me from coming to the ballpark tomorrow? No. They're not going to make it any harder for me to go home and look in the mirror. I'm more embarrassed to walk into this locker room and look at the faces of my teammates than to walk out and see Johnny from Burger King booing me. I'm worried about these guys, not everybody else."

After having knee surgery in early July, Foulke confirmed that the Sox had recommended he have the surgery on the first day of spring training, and that he regretted he did not follow the club's advice.

''We talked seriously during physicals on the first day of spring training," Foulke said during a weekly paid appearance on WEEI in July. ''At the time, I felt strong and said, 'No, I don't want it.' Looking back, I wish we'd done it early."

His current numbers for 2005: 5-5, 5.91 ERA, 15 saves, four blown saves. He’s expected to have offseason surgery on his right knee.

Photo Gallery PHOTO GALLERY: Recap Foulke's lost season
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