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Wakefield calls Clemente Award greatest honor of his career

10.28.10 at 8:25 pm ET
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Tim Wakefield came up in the Pirates organization, and so he understands what Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente stands for. The Pirates great not only was one of the best players of his baseball generation, a man who won an MVP Award, collected exactly 3,000 hits and was named a 12-time Gold Glove winner and All-Star.

He was — more strikingly to Wakefield — also a great humanitarian, a notion embodied by the fact that, after the 1972 season, he died in a plane crash while trying to deliver relief supplies to Nicaragua following a devastating earthquake.

“You knew not only his on-the-field contributions as a Pittsburgh Pirate, but you knew about his off-the-field contributions, as well,” Wakefield told reporters in San Francisco, prior to Game 2 of the World Series, on Thursday. “You knew who Roberto Clemente was and what he meant, the ultimate sacrifice that he paid for everything that he did off the field. Not only was he a first-ballot Hall of Famer and one of the greatest players to ever play the game, but for what he did off the field, really epitomizes what I think athletes and people should be like, because I’ve said this story 100 — you’ve probably heard me say it 1,000 times, it doesn’t really matter what you do on the field, what matters most is making a difference in somebody else’s life, and Roberto was a class act when it came to that.”

And so, for Wakefield, the honor of being named the 2010 recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award was tremendous. The award recognized Wakefield’s long history of community service. Major League Baseball cited his “Wakefield Warriors” program, in which he brings children from the Franciscan Hospital to Fenway Park every Tuesday, his involvement to “Pitching in for Kids,” a non-profit that provides grants across New England, and the Space Coast Early Intervention Center (SCEIC) in his hometown of Melbourne, Fla., a therapeutic pre-school program for children with special needs, as activities that led to his recognition after being nominated for the award numerous times.

Wakefield has a pair of World Series rings. He has been named (in 2009) to an All-Star team. He has nearly 200 career victories, and ranks third in Red Sox team history in wins (179) and tops the franchise leaderboard in several other categories.

Yet amidst all the accolades and accomplishments in his career, Wakefield made no secret of how he regarded the Clemente Award given his belief that a player’s off-field conduct is even more important than what he does on the diamond.

“This is the ultimate. This is the highest [honor],” said Wakefield. “I said earlier to some other people, this has nothing to do with baseball. I mean, it has nothing to do with your statistics or anything, it has to do with your character. You guys know me in Boston, I take a lot of pride in my character. This award ultimately is the highest accomplishment I think you can attain or the highest compliment that you can get from somebody, and I’m very honored and humbled at the same time to accept this award.”

Read More: clemente award, roberto clemente, Tim Wakefield,

Tim Wakefield named Roberto Clemente Award winner

10.28.10 at 7:29 pm ET
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Major League Baseball issued the following press release naming Red Sox pitching Tim Wakefield as its winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, recognizing a player who combines on-field excellence with extraordinary community endeavors:

Tim Wakefield of the Boston Red Sox has been named the 2010 recipient of the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet today at a press conference prior to Game Two of the World Series at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Bestowed annually to the Major League Baseball player who combines a dedication to giving back to the community with outstanding skills on the baseball field, the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet recognizes players who best represent the game of baseball through sportsmanship, community involvement and positive contributions to their Clubs. The Award is named for the 12-time All-Star and Hall of Famer who died in a plane crash on New Year’€™s Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. The Award pays tribute to Clemente’€™s achievements and character by recognizing talented current players who truly understand the value of helping others.

‘€œMajor League Baseball congratulates Tim Wakefield for being named the recipient of the 2010 Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet,’€ said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. ‘€œWhile Tim has put together a wonderful career on the field, his efforts off the field have had a lasting impact on the lives of young people, particularly in New England and Melbourne, Florida. We are proud to honor him with this prestigious Award.’€

Since 2004, Wakefield has been actively involved with ‘€œPitching in for Kids,’€ a non-profit organization dedicated to providing grants to improve the lives of children across the New England region. It encourages children to participate in special events to learn important life skills and the spirit of initiative and giving within the community. He has co-hosted a number of fundraising events for the organization, which have helped raise close to $1 million.

Additionally, he supports the Space Coast Early Intervention Center (SCEIC) in his hometown of Melbourne, Florida. The Center is a unique non-profit therapeutic pre-school program for children with special needs. He adopted the SCEIC in 1992 when it was struggling financially and faced closure. Since then, he has helped raise nearly $10 million for the Center through his annual Tim Wakefield Celebrity Golf Classic and Memorabilia Auction.

In 1998, Wakefield created the ‘€œWakefield Warriors’€ program, which enables patients from the Franciscan Hospital for Children and the Jimmy Fund in Boston to visit with him and watch batting practice before all Tuesday home games at Fenway Park. Each year, Wakefield participates in the Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon, which last year raised $4.5 million.

‘€œThis is a very special day for me and I am extremely honored to be named the recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award,’€ said Wakefield. ‘€œRoberto’s legacy truly epitomizes how an athlete should act, not only on the field, but off as well. That’s what I’ve tried to emulate throughout my career. I feel very lucky to be living out my dream I had as a kid and I feel a responsibility to give back. I’d like to thank the Red Sox for their continued support in my off the field endeavors and the Pitching In For Kids Foundation for their help making a difference in the lives of children all over the New England area and beyond. I’d also like to thank MLB, Chevrolet and especially the Clemente family for this great honor that I humbly accept.’€

Wakefield was selected from a list of 30 nominees, one from each Major League Club, by a panel of dignitaries that included Commissioner Selig and Vera Clemente, MLB Goodwill Ambassador and wife of the late Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente. Additionally, fans were able to log on to www.Chevy.com/clemente, which was powered by MLB.com and created specifically for the Roberto Clemente Award platform, and cast a vote for one of the 30 nominees. The winner of the fan vote was tallied as one vote among those cast by the selection panel.

‘€œI congratulate Tim Wakefield and welcome him to the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet family,’€ said Vera Clemente. ‘€œFor many years I have learned of his contributions in improving the lives of children across the New England region and his hometown Melbourne, Florida. Roberto would be very proud to have Tim on his team of great humanitarians making a positive impact in the life of
many youngsters.’€

Wakefield joins a distinguished list of national Roberto Clemente Award recipients, which includes 13 members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame:
1971 Willie Mays* 1984 Ron Guidry 1997 Eric Davis
1972 Brooks Robinson* 1985 Don Baylor 1998 Sammy Sosa
1973 Al Kaline* 1986 Garry Maddox 1999 Tony Gwynn*
1974 Willie Stargell* 1987 Rick Sutcliffe 2000 Al Leiter
1975 Lou Brock* 1988 Dale Murphy 2001 Curt Schilling
1976 Pete Rose 1989 Gary Carter* 2002 Jim Thome
1977 Rod Carew* 1990 Dave Stewart 2003 Jamie Moyer
1978 Greg Luzinski 1991 Harold Reynolds 2004 Edgar Martinez
1979 Andre Thornton 1992 Cal Ripken, Jr.* 2005 John Smoltz
1980 Phil Niekro* 1993 Barry Larkin 2006 Carlos Delgado
1981 Steve Garvey 1994 Dave Winfield* 2007 Craig Biggio
1982 Ken Singleton 1995 Ozzie Smith* 2008 Albert Pujols
1983 Cecil Cooper 1996 Kirby Puckett* 2009 Derek Jeter
* Member of Baseball Hall of Fame

Tim Wakefield has collected 193 wins over his 18-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1992-93) and Boston Red Sox (1995-Present). Wakefield, who was selected to his first career All-Star Game in 2009, is the longest tenured member of the Red Sox. The knuckle-baller’€™s consistency has helped him to become one of the best pitchers in Red Sox history, ranking third on the club’€™s all-time wins list (179) behind
Roger Clemens and Cy Young (192 each). On June 8, 2010, Wakefield, who now has 2,851.1 innings pitched in a Sox uniform, surpassed Clemens’€™ total of 2,776.0 innings pitched for the most in franchise history. In addition, his 93 wins at Fenway Park ranks second all-time to Clemens (100). In his first season with the Red Sox in 1995, Wakefield went 16-8 with a 2.95 ERA and finished third in the American
League
Cy Young voting. In 2004, Tim was a part of the Red Sox team that won its first World Championship in 86 years, and in 2007, Wakefield won a career-best 17 games while helping Boston to its second World Championship in four years. The 44-year-old right-hander was selected by the Pirates in the eighth round of the 1988 First-Year Player Draft out of Florida Institute of Technology. Wakefield has pitched in 18 postseason games, including 11 starts, over eight postseasons throughout his career.

For a full biography of Tim Wakefield’€™s charitable endeavors, visit the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet page www.Chevy.com/clemente, powered by MLB.com, the official web site of Major League Baseball.

Read More: clemente award, roberto clemente, Tim Wakefield,

Dustin Pedroia on The Big Show: ‘I hope [Cliff Lee] is not in pinstripes’

10.28.10 at 1:44 am ET
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Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia called into The Big Show on Wednesday to announce that he will join the program each Wednesday during the offseason, starting on Nov. 10, in the offseason return of The Laser Show. In addition to the announcement, the 2007 American League Rookie of the Year and ’08 Most Valuable Player discussed both the state of his left foot following the insertion of a pin in his foot in September and the postseason.

Pedroia, who grew up rooting for the Giants and would like to see San Francisco win, has taken note of the dominance of Rangers left-hander Cliff Lee. Based on personal experience and the glimpse of Lee during these playoffs, Pedroia would prefer that the free-agent-to-be sign somewhere other than with the Yankees this offseason.

“I don’t think about that,” Pedroia said. “We faced Cliff a lot, he’s pretty darn good. You saw what he did to the Yankees. He goes out there and pounds the zone with a 91, 92 MPH fastball and it looks like it’s about 100 MPH. He hides the ball real well. He throws it where he wants. He’s pretty special. I hope he’s not over there in pinstripes.”

Highlights of the interview are below. To listen to the complete interview, click here.

You’ll be taking phone calls, but please tell the listeners not to spend all their time listing off your accomplishments.

I don’€™t need a confidence-booster people. I’€™ve got lots of confidence.

How are you doing?

I just got done doing my rehab. I’€™m still in the boot right now. It’€™s kind of a long way back. But I’€™m going to beat this thing. It’€™s a tough injury, but I can’€™t wait to get to spring training and get going. I know the season is still going this year, but I missed a lot of games. I’€™m excited.

On the World Series:

I think it’€™s going to be a great series. One of the best offenses in baseball and a great pitching staff.

Have you been watching Cliff Lee and wondering about whether he’ll be with the Yankees next year?

“I don’t think about that. We faced Cliff a lot, he’s pretty darn good. You saw what he did to the Yankees. He goes out there and pounds the zone with a 91, 92 MPH fastball and it looks like it’s about 100 MPH. He hides the ball real well. He throws it where he wants. He’s pretty special. I hope he’s not over there in pinstripes.

You grew up rooting for the Giants. Are you rooting for them now?

I want to see the Giants win. They were my team growing up. If we’€™re not winning, I’€™d like to see the Giants win one in San Francisco. That’€™d be great for them. … The Giants’€™ story is pretty cool. Cody Ross was put on waivers. I know him real well. For him to step up the way he has, just a lot of guys that not a lot of people have heard of, have stepped up and come through. It’€™s pretty cool to watch.

How are you feeling?

I’€™m feeling a lot better. I’€™ll be 100 percent when spring training comes. I’€™ll be ready to go. I’€™ve got a lot of energy and a lot of stuff built up from missing a lot of the year, so I expect good things.

What’s the timetable for your rehab?

It’€™s supposed to be 12 weeks from the surgery. I had the surgery Sept. 3. They said I should be around 100 percent 12 weeks after surgery. It’€™s going well right now. I should be out of the boot in about three weeks, so we’ll see how it goes.

Brett Favre seems like he will try to play in a boot.

I don’€™t know how he’€™s doing that. That’€™s going to be tough.

Read More: Brett Favre, Cliff Lee, Cody Ross, Dustin Pedroia

Mitch Williams on D&C: Jayson Werth ‘a five-tool player’

10.27.10 at 9:56 am ET
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MLB Network analyst and former relief pitcher Mitch Williams joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to preview the World Series between the Rangers and Giants. Game 1 is Wednesday night in San Francisco.

To hear the interview, including Williams’ digs at former teammate Curt Schilling, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Williams said he’s excited for a series that features two middle-class financial teams. Said Williams: “I want people to figure out that the biggest payroll is not going to win the World Series every year. I am not a believer in that. I’ve always been a believer that you cannot go out and buy a team. You can go out and buy players, but they have to come together as a team in order to win.”

Williams compared the Giants to his 1993 Phillies team that reached the World Series. “You look at the Giants, they’re all a bunch of castoffs. And that’s what we were,” he said. “It goes to show you that you get the right group of baseball players together and you get all 25 of those guys on the same end of that rope, heading into the same direction, you can accomplish a lot.”

Despite the Giants’ feel-good story, Williams said the Rangers have the obvious advantage. “I think they’re a far more talented team than San Francisco,” he said, adding: “The Rangers are swinging the bat well. I think the Rangers offense is just going to prove to be too much for San Francisco.”

Asked about Phillies free agent-to-be Jayson Werth, Williams said the outfielder will justify the big contract he’s going to get. Williams said Werth is “a five-tool player,” and he discounted a comparison to J.D. Drew. “J.D. is not a five-tool player,” he said. “J.D. Drew can’t produce the power, he does not have the throwing arm that Jayson Werth has, he doesn’t have the speed Jayson Werth has. They’re not comparable. Not even a little bit are they comparable.”

Read More: Curt Schilling, J.D Drew, Jayson Werth, Mitch Williams

Red Sox pitching coach search takes shape: Curt Young impresses

10.26.10 at 4:10 pm ET
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According to a baseball source, the Red Sox interviewed former Oakland pitching coach Curt Young on Monday about the vacancy for the position of pitching coach that was created by the departure of John Farrell, who left to become the manager of the Blue Jays. Young, according to the source, was the most impressive of the external candidates with whom the club has talked thus far.

Young spent the last seven seasons as the Athletics pitching coach. In 2010, the young Oakland staff led the American League with a 3.58 ERA. But after 27 years in the A’s organization as a player and coach, Young turned down the team’s offer on Sunday, and he appears to be a strong early candidate to succeed Farrell.

That said, the interview process remains ongoing for the Sox. Later this week, the team will interview a pair of internal candidates: Mike Cather, who served as an advance scout in 2010 after three years working in Double-A Portland (2007-09) and one with High-A Wilmington (2006), and Ralph Treuel, who has spent the last four years as the organization’s roving minor league pitching instructor. Treuel also spent part of the 2006 season as the Sox bullpen coach, and served briefly as the team’s pitching coach in Sept. 2001.

Read More: curt young, John Farrell, mike cather, pitching coach

Red Sox announce ticket prices for 2011

10.26.10 at 2:32 pm ET
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The Red Sox issued a press release announcing ticket prices for the 2011 season. The team said that ticket prices in 16 categories of seats would remain the same, while approximately 30 percent of seats will be increased by no more than $5 a ticket. Overall, the team announced, prices for tickets will rise by 2 percent, which the team described as the second-lowest increase of the last 16 years (trailing only 2009, when the team froze ticket prices).

Here is the complete release:

The Boston Red Sox today announced prices for tickets available to the general public at Fenway Park for the 2011 regular season, and for 2011 Spring Training games, with prices held at 2010 levels on most categories of tickets.

2011 regular season ticket prices will be held at 2010 price levels in 17 categories of Fenway Park tickets: Green Monster Seats; Budweiser Right Field Roof Deck; Pavilion Box; Left Field Pavilion Reserved; Right Field Box; Right Field Roof Box; Right Field Roof Terrace; Outfield Grandstand; Bleachers; Upper Bleachers; General Standing Room; Pavilion Standing Room; Coca-Cola Corner Pavilion Standing Room; Right Field Roof Box Standing Room; Right Field Roof Terrace Standing Room; Budweiser Right Field Roof Deck Standing Room and Green Monster Standing Room.

Approximately 30% of tickets, all of which are located in three prime infield ticket categories, will see a modest increase for the 2011 season, with no single price category increasing by more than $5. The overall average price increase for all tickets is 2%, which represents the lowest percentage increase over the past 16 seasons with the exception of the 2009 season when the team implemented a price freeze across the board in all ticket categories. In 2011, 63% of the tickets throughout Fenway Park will be $55 or less, with the lowest bleacher ticket price remaining at $12.

Designated prime infield seat locations within three categories of Fenway Park – the Field Box, Loge Box and Infield Grandstands – will undergo increases of $5, $4 and $3 respectively. Prices for more than 4,700 seats in those three sections will be held at 2010 levels.
2011 Spring Training Game prices for all tickets available to the general public will be held at 2010 levels. The Red Sox implemented an across the board freeze on all Spring Training ticket prices for games at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, FL, in 2009 and repeated the measure in 2010. 2011 marks the fifth time in six years that ticket prices for games at City of Palms Park have remained unchanged. The 2011 Spring Training schedule and ticket on-sale date will be announced in the coming weeks.

‘€œWe are extremely fortunate that Red Sox Nation continues to support this team year after year, and it is because of this tremendous and consistent support that we can continue to invest at significant levels in the ballclub and on the ballpark. As we look beyond 2010 to next season, we are committed to intensifying our efforts and focusing our resources to bring post-season baseball back to Fenway Park,’€ said Larry Lucchino, President/CEO. ‘€œThis offseason we also enter the tenth and final year of major annual improvements to Fenway Park, which have been significantly supported over the years by ticket revenue. For that, we thank our fans for their key role in preserving and improving Fenway Park. The total, overall investment to preserve and protect Fenway Park over the last decade, approximately $285 million, has greatly enhanced the fan experience and will ensure Red Sox baseball can be played at Fenway Park for future generations.’€

‘€œThe Boston Red Sox fans are the most loyal in all of Major League Baseball, and we are constantly mindful of this as we make decisions that will have an impact on the Club, Fenway Park, and our fans. After considerable evaluation, we decided to implement a small increase on a limited number of prime tickets for the 2011 season ‘€“ the second lowest percentage increase over the past 16 seasons,’€ said Sam Kennedy, Executive Vice President/COO. ‘€œOver the last few years, we have taken steps to slow the growth of season ticket and individual game ticket prices in efforts to ensure the Fenway Park experience is a viable option for as many citizens of Red Sox Nation as possible.”

Distribution methods for Green Monster and Budweiser Deck tickets will be announced after the New Year, in accordance with past practice, and will be designed to make these popular seats available to as many different people as possible. Pricing for premium seating in 2011 will vary and be based on longer term contracts entered into several years ago. The Red Sox special discount programs for Active Duty Military and Clergy will continue unchanged in 2011.

Fans’€™ first opportunity to purchase tickets for the 2011 season will be the annual, all-day ‘€œChristmas at Fenway’€ presented by Stop & Shop on Saturday, December 11. Additional details for this traditional and popular holiday event will be released in the near future.

Read More: Fenway Park, ticket prices,

What Zack Greinke thinks about pitching in New York

10.26.10 at 1:19 pm ET
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According to several reports, the Kansas City Royals will entertain pitches for 2009 Cy Young winner Zack Greinke. It is expected that it would take an enormous prospect package to acquire the Royals ace, who is young (he just turned 27 last week), affordable (he is under contract in 2011 and 2012 for $13.5 million, relatively short money for a pitcher of his talents) and armed with stuff that is comparable to just about any pitcher in baseball.

Greinke, one year removed from his dazzling Cy Young campaign, struggled in 2010. He was 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA, more than two runs higher than his 2009 mark. Even so, many observers thought that the right-hander might have been disinterested while pitching for a Royals club that was once again a last place club. Greinke himself suggested as much towards the end of the year, telling MLB.com that he had indeed struggled with motivation, and that he would consider changing his medication for a social anxiety disorder in order to help deal with the issue.

With many teams feeling that Greinke’s 2010 performance was something of an aberration, his appeal this offseason will be tremendous. His talent makes him a lower-cost alternative to Cliff Lee, with few other pitchers able to match his stature.

But, a question looms over where Greinke might be willing to pitch. The topic is somewhat delicate, given the social anxiety disorder that had him on the brink of quitting the game in 2006, and had Royals officials fearing more for his health and well-being than his pitching future. If, for instance, the Yankees prove unable to land Lee in free agency, Greinke would appear the only top-of-the-rotation alternative who would be available this winter.

But the question exists as to whether Greinke would be a fit for a team in New York with a press corps and fan base several times the size of that to which the right-hander has become accustomed in Kansas City. Indeed, Greinke himself suggested in 2009 that part of the reason he signed a four-year, $38 million deal with the Royals was his comfort with the environment. And while he said that he has progressed sufficiently in his treatment that he could imagine pitching somewhere else, he admitted that he found it hard to imagine pitching in New York.

‘€œ[The environment] had a lot to do with [signing the extension], for sure,’€ Greinke said at the 2009 All-Star Game. ‘€œNow, maybe New York would bother me, but I don’€™t think anywhere else would bother me anymore. Even though I’€™m in Kansas City, I’€™ve gotten used to it a lot more. New York, I still might have trouble in New York. I probably would. But I think almost everyone does.’€

Greinke, FoxSports.com reported earlier this offseason, will have the right to veto trades to 15 teams in 2011. This past season, when he had the right to veto deals to 20 clubs, the report stated, both the Yankees and Red Sox were on the list of teams to whom he had the right to veto a deal. And while that is sometimes merely a negotiating ploy to extract more money from potentially interested clubs, in Greinke’s case, the issue could be more delicate than that.

As MLB Network and NESN analyst Peter Gammons said on The Big Show on Friday:

“I can’€™t believe [the Yankees would] ever trade for Greinke and try to have him pitch in New York. I think he’€™s better off pitching in Greenland.”

Read More: Mets, new york, Yankees, zack greinke
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