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Wake on way back

Posted by Christopher L. Gasper, Globe Staff  September 6, 2006 05:35 PM

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Tim Wakefield threw another simulated game today and said he would probably return to the Red Sox rotation next week on the road against Baltimore, if he doesn't have any more complications from the stress fracture in his rib cage.

Wakefield was placed on the disabled list (retroactive to July 18) on July 22 and last pitched in a game on July 17, when he left the game after pitching four innings against Kansas City. Yesterday, he took the mound in his second simulated game, going five innings and throwing 80 pitches.

"I got up and down five times and everything felt okay," said Wakefield. "In warm-ups, it took me a little bit longer than normal. I expected that, but once I got loose and got going I felt pretty good."

Wakefield said it's been frustrating dealing with the injury because it is something only time can heal. That's why when he does come back he wants to make sure his performance won't be hampered by it.

"I don't think the pain is going to go away until the off-season," said the knuckleballer. "It's just a matter of whether I can go out there and sustain five or six or seven innings without it getting to a point where I can't throw. I don't want to put the team in jeopardy and say, 'I'm ready, I'm going to pitch,' and then I get four innings into it and it's grabbing again. I want to make sure that's not going to be the case."

On to other news:

-- Kevin Youkilis is out of the Sox lineup tonight (see below for full lineups). Sox manager Terry Francona said that with the Sox off tomorrow, it was a chance to give Youkilis two days of rest. He did say Youkilis would be available to pinch hit. "I think he desperately needs two nights. His feet hurt, his shoulder hurts, everything hurts. We can use him later in the game, but I think this is one case where two days really will make him a different player."

-- Francona said he doesn't know when -- or even if -- injured closer Jonathan Papelbon will be back this season. But the team is not going to jeopardize his long-term health. "Regardless of how desperate we are to win games, the only way we would pitch him would be if the medical people deemed it was in his best interest," said Francona.

-- As expected, Mike Timlin is not available after his two-inning save last night against the White Sox.

Here are the lineups:

Red Sox
1. Coco Crisp, CF
2. Mark Loretta, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Manny Ramirez, LF
5. Trot Nixon, RF
6. Mike Lowell, 3B
7. Jason Varitek, C
8. Eric Hinske, 1B
9. Alex Cora, SS

P -- Kyle Snyder

White Sox
1. Ryan Sweeney, CF
2. Tadahito Iguchi, 2B
3. Jermaine Dye, RF
4. Jim Thome, DH
5. Paul Konerko, 1B
6. A.J. Pierzynski, C
7. Joe Crede, 3B
8. Scott Podsednik, LF
9. Alex Cintron, SS

P -- Jose Contreras

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