Too Soon for Decision on Tim Wakefield’s Role With Red Sox


Too Soon for Decision on Tim Wakefield's Role With Red Sox Red Sox manager Terry Francona will be answering questions on this offseason.

Here’s his 16th installment.

What’s was your take on Tim Wakefield’s recent comments about wanting the ball as a full-time starter and feeling disrespected that it’s even an issue. I know it has been discussed before, but if Wakefield is the odd man out in the Red Sox’ starting rotation, how do you plan to use him and keep him from getting frustrated?
–Jimmy, Melrose, Mass.

Our plan is to get all our pitchers up to speed the first few weeks of spring training. Trying to make decisions before that has never made sense to me. There is not a person in that clubhouse that doesn’t respect what Wake can do, but we still have to protect our organization with innings. In 2006, we ran into a situation where we couldn’t win, and we never want that to happen again. Sometimes, things don’t work out exactly on each particular player’s time table, but for the most part, if a player puts the team first, things have a way of working out. And Wake has always done that.

Do you think Nomar Garciaparra would be a good fit on the Red Sox? “Nomah” will bring fans. You have to admit that. I know it’s about winning and the lack of space, but why can’t someone at least get him to spring training?
–Ethan L, Chattanooga, Tenn.

Nomar will always have a place in most Red Sox fans’ hearts. But when looking at how we are going to construct our roster, it’s probably not fair to the player or the organization if you only take into consideration whether he will attract fans. We look at each individual and where they could fit. When dealing with experienced players, we try to be very up front and honest with them when talking about coming to our camp for a possible position. You never quite know how things will unfold, but it’s certainly best to always be as honest as possible.
It’s no secret that Red Sox fans are very passionate and knowledgeable. Since you took over as Red Sox manager, what’s the oddest experience you’ve ever had with a fan that demonstrates his or her love for the team?
–Jeanine, Cleveland

Oddest …  hmm … I don’t think I can print that. From time to time, particularly when we lose a tough game, I can get some e-mails that have a lot of passion (along with a lot of cursing). Everybody thinks they can be a manager, and that’s OK. That’s part of what makes baseball so special.
The NBA is projected to lose $400 million this year, and the NFL is discussing a possible lockout in 2011. Major League Baseball seems to be doing pretty well during these tough economic times. Is this an accurate assessment? What is the reason MLB isn’t struggling? Does it have anything to do with having no salary cap?
–Thomas, West Hartford, Conn.

I am the wrong person to ask a question like that. I can barely get this computer to work! I think all sports will have to realize our country’s economic situation and certainly make adjustments. It’s going to take some really smart people to make good decisions. I am hopeful baseball has both of those capabilities.
What are your plans for Michael Bowden?
–Steve Achber, Laconia, N.H.

Our plans are to use Michael as a starter in spring training. Where that leads is up to Michael. He is still learning a lot about himself and his delivery, but he might be the hardest-working young guy we have. He has shown he can be a big-time winner in the minor leagues, and he also knows he needs to make some adjustments to be successful in the big leagues.

You can have Terry Francona answer your questions by e-mailing them to his mailbag.

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