FORT MYERS, Fla. After the Red Sox made their latest round of cuts today, Terry Francona acknowledged in a roundabout way that Tim Wakefield had made the team.
Out of respect for their longest-tenured player, the Sox never said Wakefield was competing for a job in the bullpen. But he was 4-10 with a 5.34 ERA last season and has been hit hard of late in spring training. There was widespread speculation among fans, media and other teams that Wakefield might get bumped off the roster.
The Sox place value in his ability to start when needed. But Francona acknowledged that having Wakefield in the bullpen presents a challenge.
The hardest thing is for me to try and figure out how to use him and get the most out of him, he said. The starting part is easy. He gives that unique ability where he can come in on a day and pitch and probably pitch pretty well and not screw up the rotation and the bullpen.
"But trying to figure out how to use him in the bullpen when things are going good is a little tricky, because there's always that chance of a passed ball or stolen base. So, we've got to figure that out. But there's a definite way he can help us."
Wakefield was basically an emergency starter and mop-up man last season. How or if that changes will be interesting to keep track of.