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Red Sox Notebook

Wakefield’s new role a work in progress

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / May 1, 2010

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BALTIMORE — After giving Tim Wakefield much of the week to digest moving to the bullpen, manager Terry Francona finally sat down with the knuckleballer to discuss his new role. As it turns out, part of his old role could be involved.

“That’s very realistic,’’ Francona said, when asked if Wakefield could be slotted into the rotation to give starters a rest. “We’ll see. We don’t have a date circled, but that is certainly something that can happen.’’

For now, though, Wakefield is in the bullpen, a move he still doesn’t want to discuss.

Wakefield again declined to comment about the move.

Not everything is decided on how the Sox will use him. Francona has said multiple times he wants to keep Wakefield stretched out, which could involve the righthander throwing side sessions between his work in games.

“He told us he’d let us know what he needs,’’ Francona said.

With Wakefield’s move comes another issue — catching. Victor Martinez has caught Wakefield since he’s been with the Red Sox, with Jason Varitek catching the knuckleballer in just one inning since 2005.

Asked if he were having nightmares about returning to work with Wakefield, Varitek smiled and said, “My nightmare was that my first major league start was with him. You add in normal, everyday butterflies to doing something you’ve never done before, but we survived.’’

Return of Dice-K
Daisuke Matsuzaka is set to pitch today for the first time this season after rehabbing from a neck strain. Matsuzaka has been up to approximately 100 pitches a couple of times, but the Sox will monitor him based on how he’s pitching and other factors.

To open up a spot on the roster, the Sox needed to make a decision about one of the lefthanders. They chose to keep Scott Schoeneweis, despite his struggles against lefthanded batters, who are batting .350 off him, and cut their ties with Alan Embree.

Even after bringing up Embree from the minors Wednesday, the Sox are expected to designate the pitcher for assignment today without seeing him throw a single pitch for the big league club.

Francona declined to go over the roster move after the game, but Embree confirmed it as he shook hands around the clubhouse.

“They said, ‘It [stinks], there’s no good way to put this, but you’re the guy,’’ Embree said. “It’s one of those things where I knew what the numbers were coming in, it’s going to be kind of dicey one way or another. It’s either four days or I’ll be here. Came up, my number was picked.’’

Embree had extended the out in his contract from April 15 to April 30 to accommodate the Sox, only to have them send him away as soon as he arrived.

He said he wasn’t sure if there would be interest in him outside of the Sox; he said he will not accept an assignment in the minors.

“It was a numbers game,’’ Embree said. “I’m disappointed, but grateful that they gave me a chance . . . This is ultimately where I wanted to be. We’ll see where the rest takes me. It’s just another chapter.’’

Caught in action
With the Sox struggling to control other teams on the bases, Boston did have two positive moments. Martinez caught Matt Wieters stealing in the first inning (though replays show Marco Scutaro was late with the tag despite the ball being there in plenty of time). It was even more impressive since Martinez double-clutched on the throw. “It was a great throw because he actually didn’t handle it cleanly,’’ Francona said. “It was one of his best throws we’ve seen yet. That was very encouraging.’’ But that wasn’t all. John Lackey added a pickoff of Adam Jones in the seventh inning, which he said came from the bench . . . J.D. Drew saw his average creep above .200 for a brief moment, though he ended the evening at .197. Drew appears far more comfortable at the plate, continuing to send balls the opposite way. He hit his first homer of the night to left and his second to center. Drew also went without a single swing in the 14 pitches between home run No. 1 and No. 2, as he walked in the fourth and struck out looking in the sixth . . . The Orioles recalled Brad Bergesen from Triple A to pitch today. He was demoted April 20 after struggling in his early starts. . . . Mark Wagner, the Red Sox’ minor league catcher closest to the big leagues, learned yesterday he had a fractured hamate bone in his left hand, and will have surgery Tuesday. He is expected to be out 6-8 weeks, and was placed on the disabled list . . . The Sox will honor Nomar Garciaparra before the game Wednesday, starting at 6:45 p.m.

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.

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