Strong feeling that Wakefield will go Monday
Tim Wakefield met with manager Terry Francona, general manager Theo Epstein, pitching coach John Farrell, and team medical director Thomas Gill yesterday in an effort to determine a course of action for the knuckleballer. The problem is that the strength deficit in Wakefield’s legs has been getting worse.
“As long as it’s staying steady, we were a little more comfortable,’’ said Francona. “As it decreases, that is a concern.’’
It was determined that Wakefield will continue to work toward a start Monday in Kansas City.
“The meeting we had, basically, was to determine whether or not it was safe for me to continue to pitch because my strength has gone down,’’ Wakefield said before the Red Sox’ dramatic 9-8 win over the Angels last night. “We wanted to get everybody together and decided, you know, am I throwing another side [tomorrow], see how it feels from there? As of now, I’m planning on pitching.’’
Wakefield seemed confident that he can pitch without doing more damage to the fragmented disk in his back. He already has had three cortisone shots to deal with the pain. Wakefield has made just two starts since the All-Star break, the most recent Sept. 5 against the White Sox.
Wakefield will almost certainly have surgery in the offseason, a procedure that is expected to cost him only a couple of weeks and will not put spring training in jeopardy, if the 43-year-old decides to return.
“Rest, I’m sure, helps,’’ Francona said. “I can’t imagine pitching being real good for it. But again, we’ve been over all the options. I don’t think it needs repeating. Trying to stay on top of it as much as we can and just make sure everybody’s on the same page, and we’ll make our decisions.’’
“I’ve had back spasms every year,’’ he said. “At some point you get them and they go away. Hopefully it will go away and I’ll be good to go tomorrow.’’
Youkilis has experienced discomfort in the “kidney area of my back,’’ starting on Monday’s off day. He said he had “mild ones for a couple of days and then finally it just got worse and worse and got tighter.’’
The Sox did get some good news, as Victor Martinez is expected to return to the lineup today after dealing with a family matter in Cleveland.
But Youkilis’s availability is uncertain - not that he expects to be out for an extended period.
“It’s a long season,’’ Youkilis said. “Things happen. I get this once a year, this one little thing. I was close to not having it this year and it happened. It’s one of those things where it could take just a couple of days and hopefully it’s better and makes progress each day.’’
Rotating his body is the biggest problem. Youkilis isn’t losing sleep, but the spasms are limiting his range of motion.
“If they’re very bad, they could go for two or three or four or five days,’’ he said. “Once they’re gone, they’re gone. That’s the key. Once it gets loose, I’ll be ready to go.’’
Jed Lowrie could have been forgiven for having a flashback. Sure, it was the playoffs. Sure, he was batting lefthanded, against Scot Shields. But Lowrie was in the batter’s box, facing the Angels at a crucial time, and coming through. It was last October, when Lowrie clinched the Division Series with an RBI single in the ninth inning, knocking the Angels out of the playoffs.
The stakes weren’t nearly as high last night when he came to the plate, but it was just as important for him to come through. The Red Sox were down by a run with two outs in the ninth and two men on, and Lowrie lashed a grounder down the third base line that was stabbed by Chone Figgins. But Figgins couldn’t make an out, loading the bases loaded. Two batters later, the Sox had a 9-8 win.
It was Lowrie’s first big league at-bat since Aug. 6.
“We wanted to get him in a situation where you get righthanded,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “They get to [Brian ] Fuentes, so we know they’re staying with him. That was an unbelievable play. That ball looks like it’s got a chance to if not score a run, maybe score both. He launches himself and keeps it in the infield, you’re trying to curb your excitement a little bit and stay with it.’’
“Tito gave me the opportunity to be a situation to get a big hit,’’ Lowrie said. “Figgins made a great play, and we were able to pull it out . . . I know I can play at this level, and it does help to be able to draw back on situations like that [in the ALDS]. But just going up there and having the opportunity to succeed is really what drove me to be successful in that situation.’’
Lowrie has spent this season battling his left wrist injury, and has played in just 21 games after having a chance to win the starting shortstop job in spring training. He has instead spent his season in the minors, through Pawtucket and Portland and Fort Myers and Lowell, trying to make it back to the majors before the end of the year.
“I realized the situation and I know what’s going on,’’ Lowrie said. “It’s hard not to recognize that when everyone at Fenway’s on their feet. You’d be a robot if you didn’t recognize that. Once you get in the box it kind of goes back to, ‘Let’s get this job done.’ ’’
Adam Kilgore of the Globe staff contributed to this report.