Wakefield: I don't need to prove myself

With the Red Sox boasting one of the strongest and deepest starting rotations in baseball, veteran Tim Wakefield, who has been with the organization longer than anyone on the roster, is hearing familiar questions about his role.

But Wakefield made it clear he sees himself as a full-time starter in comments to the Boston Herald Tuesday.

"I did make the All-Star team last year," Wakefield told the Herald. "It seems every year, and I don't know why, my name gets brought up like this when I don't feel I need to prove myself every day. I don't know where the rumors are coming from, but I try not to pay attention. I know my role and I know what my approach is going to be when I get to spring training: be a starter and help us win the World Series.

"Hopefully they respect me enough to give me the ball when we get to spring training as a member of this rotation. I think I've earned the right to be a full-time starter and go from there."

With the signing of free agent John Lackey, the Red Sox have six starters: Lackey, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Clay Buchholz and Wakefield.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona, at least publicly, has been taking a wait-and-see attitude toward Wakefield, given that the 43-year-old underwent back surgery after last season. At the Boston Baseball Writers' dinner Jan. 14, Francona said it remains to be seen what Wakefield's schedule will be in training camp.

"The days of Wake logging all those innings may be past,'' Francona said at the dinner. "But you can guarantee Wake is going to pitch and win his games. We've just got to figure out what's best for him and us.''

Wakefield told the Herald that doctors in Boston on Monday gave him an "A-plus" and that he's on his normal throwing program and feeling fine.

"It's been a long road," Wakefield said of the recovery from surgery, "but it's gotten me to the point where I can get back on the field and compete, and for that I'm thankful.

"I don't know who is saying I'm only a part-time pitcher, but I think some of their opinions might be based on not knowing how I was feeling. [Monday's doctor visit] may have gotten rid of some question marks they have."

Wakefield was in New York on Tuesday to receive the Bart Giamatti Award for community service at the Baseball Assistance Team's annual dinner.