One of the longest tenured players in the MLB, Tim Wakefield has been with the Red Sox since 1995. That time may be coming to an end this year, however, depending on the decisions made by Terry Francona and the front office.
Before Friday's spring training game against the Tigers, when asked about the strengths of long relief candidates Tim Wakefield and Alfredo Aceves, Francona acknowledged that there would be some interesting choices for the team in the coming weeks:
(Via Peter Abraham)
Their styles aren't similar. But they both can pitch out of the bullpen, both can start. We're going to have some interesting decisions to make here come the last week. Fortunately, guys have really shown well. It's going to be interesting.
When Abraham followed up, asking if Wakefield's spot on the roster was, perhaps, in jeopardy, Francona was quick to...say nothing:
"I would never sit here and talk about somebody being on the ... I can't do that. That's so disrespectful of players. I would never do that. That would be awful."
Another reporter asked if Aceves and Wakefield could both make the team.
"I'm not going to do that," he said. "I wouldn't do that to those guys. These guys have a stressful couple of weeks ahead of them. I'm not going to make it worse."
It doesn't sound like much, but consider who we're talking about here.
Terry Francona is one of the most veteran-loyal managers in the game today. For him to not simply say that Wakefield has a spot strongly suggests that there is a competition. After all, what would it hurt to say that unless Aceves thought he had a shot at the team?
It's been 16 seasons with the Red Sox for Tim Wakefield, but when it comes down to it, it's about winning games. Wakefield hasn't been as effective in recent years, and has had injury troubles hurting the reliability which had been one of his best qualities. With an effective replacement available in Alfredo Aceves, has the time come to finally cut the knuckleballer loose?