Wakefield ready to accept any role in 2011

BOSTON -- A year ago at this time, Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield thought his role in the starting rotation was solidified.

It wasn’t.

Turns out the Red Sox needed the veteran knuckleballer to start 19 games due to various injuries but Wakefield spent significant time in the bullpen, something he wasn’t very happy about.

He finished the season with a 4-10 record and a 5.34 ERA in 32 games. Now, with less than a month until pitchers and catchers report, Wakefield knows exactly what his role will be in 2011 and he said he’s more comfortable with it because of that and is going in with an open mind.

“I don’t want to dwell on last year,” he said. “It was what it was and, unfortunately, it happened and I’m looking to look past that and accept whatever role is given to me in the 2011 season and try to win another championship for the city of Boston.”

Wakefield talked about the difficulties of getting through a season emotionally unscathed and dealing with the mental ups and downs that come with being a big league player.

“It’s tough to accept change, especially coming off the season I had in 2009 when I made the All-Star team and pretty much sacrificed the whole second half with a back injury,” he said. “It is tough to accept that change because you’re a competitor at heart. Every athlete will tell you that. They want to be in that starting position and do the best they can to help the club win. I look forward to doing that in 2011.”

Toward the end of his “tough to swallow” season, Wakefield said he thought the 2011 season would be his last. Now that he’s had an offseason to think about his career, he’s not so sure how long his knuckleball will take him.

“I don’t know, yet,” he said. “It’s getting close.”

Before that happens, he would like a chance to reach a few milestones, including 200 career wins. He enters 2011 with 193 career victories.

“It sill might be. You never know," he said. "I’m still wearing the uniform."