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Wakefield will roll with it

Over his frustration, he’ll take job in stride in 2011

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / December 4, 2010

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CAP CANA, Dominican Republic — Tim Wakefield is prepared to accept whatever role the Red Sox have for him next season, because it is likely to be his last as a player.

“There are still some numbers I want to achieve. But I’m not going to put that much pressure on myself knowing that this probably will be my last year,’’ the 44-year-old righthander said yesterday. “I’m not going to come out and say I’m going to retire at the end of the 2011 season. But getting closer to the end, I’d really like to enjoy it more than I did last year.’’

Wakefield wanted to be part of the rotation last season. The Red Sox instead used him as a spot starter and long reliever, a role he resented after being an All-Star in 2009. Wakefield was 4-10 with a 5.34 earned run average. But he is proud of the fact that he threw 140 innings.

“I proved to them I could throw more than 100 innings,’’ Wakefield said. “That was supposedly estimated what I was going to throw. I gave them 140 and proved I could stay healthy for the whole season. Hopefully I can do that again.

“Regardless of what my role is going to be, I think I’m going into it more with my eyes open compared to last year. It was thrown in my lap that this is the situation and I was a little reluctant to accept it based on what I had done in ’09 and the loyalty I had shown the club. That’s water under the bridge, last year. I’m looking forward to coming in and contributing in whatever manner I can.’’

Wakefield, who in October won baseball’s prestigious Roberto Clemente Award for his community service, joined several teammates here for David Ortiz’s charity golf event. But, as often happens when players get together in the winter, talk turned to the coming season.

“Hopefully, I can have a more defined role, whether it’s as a starter or whether it’s in the bullpen,’’ he said. “I want to be able to contribute as much as possible to help us win games instead of just being that insurance policy.’’

Wakefield has made the most starts and pitched the most innings in franchise history. His 179 wins trail only Roger Clemens and Cy Young, who each had 192.

Set up for surprise Daniel Bard was surprised to hear about reports suggesting the Red Sox tried to sign Mariano Rivera before he agreed to terms with the Yankees Thursday.

“Wow, that would have been interesting,’’ said Bard, the Sox’ primary setup man. “I can’t believe he would leave the Yankees but they say everybody has their price.’’

Rivera accepted two years and $30 million from the Yankees, reportedly the same deal offered by the Red Sox. It’s uncertain whether the Sox truly hoped to land Rivera or were only driving up his price.

As it stands, Jonathan Papelbon likely will remain the closer after he was tendered a contract Thursday.

Bard was also trying to figure out why the Sox traded for his former North Carolina teammate, lefthander Andrew Miller, last month only to non-tender him Thursday.

“He texted me and said, ‘I’m a free agent.’ I hope we keep him,’’ Bard said. “He has a chance to really help somebody.’’

Party of five The Sox signed five players to minor league deals: righthanders Jason Bergmann, Brandon Duckworth, and Santo Luis, and infielders Nate Spears and Drew Sutton.

Bergmann, 29, was 12-24 with a 5.04 ERA over parts of six seasons with the Nationals and spent most of last season with Triple A Syracuse as a reliever.

Duckworth, 34, has not been in the majors since 2008 and was 5-4 with 3.32 ERA for Triple A Lehigh Valley in the Philadelphia organization in 2010.

Luis, 26, was with the Sox organization last season, pitching for Portland and Pawtucket. He was 6-2 with a 3.99 ERA overall.

Spears, 25, hit .272 and had 82 RBIs for Portland last season. Sutton, 27, was with the Reds and Indians organizations last season and appeared in 13 major league games.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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