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Wakefield on Lowell: ‘Not fun to be in his situation’

03.15.10 at 2:44 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — On the mound, it was a day that Tim Wakefield could describe as productive because of the setting. The right-hander allowed nine hits and five runs in 3.2 innings of work. He didn’t walk anyone, but he did hit a pair of batters and allowed a homer into the gale-force winds blowing out to right.

That said, the 43-year-old was pleased that he continued to get his spring work in: he pitched in four different innings, his longest outing of the spring, and built his pitch count to 57. He had the opportunity to pitch extensively out of the stretch and to work on controlling the running game. Though he felt he was rushing through his delivery on occasion, he threw a couple of sharp curveballs for strikes. Overall, he had no problem assessing the day as another steady step towards the regular season.

“Physically, I felt great. I was able to get up and down four times without a problem,” said Wakefield. “Obviously, the results weren’€™t what I wanted them to be, but it’€™s spring training.”

Yet there was one element of Wakefield’s day that represented a departure from his spring routine. That was the identity of the first baseman. For the first time as a member of the Red Sox, Mike Lowell was playing first, on the opposite side of his customary station of the diamond.

The pitcher said that it was a bit strange to see Lowell at first. Yet he also made clear that Lowell looked comfortable at the position (“He’s very athletic; I think if you put him anywhere, he’d look normal,” said Wakefield) and that it was, more importantly, exciting to see his teammate of the last four seasons back on the field for the first time since undergoing offseason surgery on a right thumb ligament.

“He’€™s been as professional as anyone I’€™ve ever played with. He’€™s been a great leader in the clubhouse. He’€™s been a great friend off the field with me. He’€™s just a tremendous guy,” Wakefield gushed. “To see him battle injuries the last couple years has been difficult to watch. But he’€™s a gamer. He’€™s going to go out there and give you 125 percent every single night. Knowing that, having him out there, whether it’€™s at first base or whatever his role might be this year, I’€™m glad that he’€™s still with us.”

Of course, that relief reflected the fact that Lowell had been traded to the Rangers this offseason, a deal that was voided only after the Texas physical revealed the need for surgery. Wakefield could empathize with his teammate’s uncomfortable position this spring — with Lowell trying to learn a new position and faced with the possibility of a bench role on a team that tried to deal him away this winter — but still suggested that, on a personal level, it was exciting to have Lowell still with the Sox.

“It’€™s not fun to be in his situation. On the other hand, you look at it as a business deal. It sucks sometimes. It really does. But we don’€™t make those decisions around the club, and we have to live by what decisions are made and make the best of it,” said Wakefield. “From a personal standpoint, for me, I’€™m glad he didn’€™t get traded to Texas this offseason because by far he’€™s the most professional guy I’€™ve played with and he’€™s been a tremendous teammate and a leader in this clubhouse. That’€™s something that would have been sorely missed if he had gotten traded to Texas.”

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