FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield held court here this morning, touching on a number of topics. A summary of his key points:
- When the 42-year-old was asked whether there was any doubt he would return to the Red Sox this season, Wakefield replied: “There was no retirement in my mind. Passing my physical, that was all I needed to do.”
- Wakefield, who has battled shoulder and back injuries the last two seasons, said he did some offseason work in those two areas and feels 100 percent again. He said “overuse and fatigue” really set in at the end of the season, in which he was 10-11 with a 4.11 ERA (including a 6.65 ERA in September).
- The knuckleballer discussed Josh Bard’s return to the Red Sox and possibly catching for him again (if you remember, the first time around in 2006 didn’t go so well).
“I never had somebody work as hard as he did,” Wakefield said. “My comfort level with him never changed from spring training [when Bard had some success] to the regular season [when he struggled].”
Bard’s inability to consistently handle the knuckleball led the Red Sox to deal him to San Diego a month into 2006 the season in exchange for Doug Mirabelli, who had been Wakefield’s personal catcher before Bard’s arrival.
“[Bard’s] biggest mistake was trying to catch like Dougie caught and that wasn’t his style,” Wakefield said.
Elsewhere this morning, pitcher Clay Buchholz, who struggled with the Red Sox last season (2-9, 6.75 ERA), said he thinks issues last season were in large part mental. Buchholz said he worked with Red Sox sports psychology coach Bob Tewksbury in the offseason to improve on that aspect of his game.