MILWAUKEE — Tim Wakefield's agent issued what amounted to a challenge to the Red Sox this afternoon. Barry Meister said that if the Red Sox don't bring the 45-year-old knuckleballer back, "he's going to win 15 games somewhere else."
"Tim's going to play again, absolutely," Meister said in the lobby of the Pfister Hotel. "I hope it's with Boston and I've expressed that to them. I feel strongly that he can pitch and pitch effectively whether it's in a starter's role or in that hybrid role. I just think if he didn't pitch for the Boston Red Sox it would be a shame. If not, we've got a lot of teams that have called and we're entertaining their offers."
The Sox, according to Meister, are focusing on their search for a manager and will deal with Wakefield later on.
Wakefield was 7-8 with a 5.12 ERA in 33 games (23 starts) last season. He was 2-5, 5.55 after the All-Star break. Wakefield is 11-18, 5.22 over the last two seasons.
"He loves being a Red Sock and he loves being a baseball player," Meister said. "If for some reason they don't feel like he can play, well he's going to win 15 games somewhere else and show them that, once again, they've underestimated him."
Wakefield last won 15 games in 2007.
"He loves Boston," Meister said. "Whether it's his charity or The Jimmy Fund, this is his community and he feels like he can help this club. He feels like he has unfinished business."
In what sense?
"He wants to win. He wants to put another ring on his finger. He wants a parade. He's from Boston now. He lives there. He feels pretty strongly about it," Meister said.
Wakefield has been with the Red Sox for 17 seasons and has won 186 games, six shy of tying Cy Young and Roger Clemens for the franchise record.
Meister mentioned the idea of Wakefield pitching in the National League, saying that his research shows knuckleballers who switch from the AL to the NL show a significant improvement in their ERA.
"It's a huge difference as the league takes a year to adjust," Meister said. "I have no doubt if that's what he ends up doing, he'll have a geometric success because they'll be seeing a pitch they haven't seen before."
But Meister reiterated that Wakefield wants to return to the Red Sox.
"It would be a shame if the Red Sox didn't feel like Tim could help them," he said.
Wakefield said a year ago that the 2011 season would "probably" be his last. What changed?
"I think he realized that he could still be effective," Meister said. "I think he realizes that there's more to be done. My guess is he wants to play one more year. My guess is if he signed with the Red Sox today, he'd probably announce at the same time that this was it and he was going to go out with a parade. That's what he wants."
Wakefield told Fox Sports in September that he wanted to return because fans "deserved" to see him break the franchise wins record. Meister claimed Wakefield is more intent on winning another World Series.