The 41-year-old Wakefield was left off the Red Sox's roster while Jon Lester, who threw a simulated game Tuesday, will likely join the rotation and start Game 4 against the Rockies.
"This stinks for me," said Wakefield, the knuckleballer who was sidelined for the AL Division Series and pitched poorly in the ALCS. "I want to be out there competing. This is the ultimate stage."
Wakefield is Boston's longest-tenured player. Now in his 13th season with the Red Sox, the team has an option to retain him next year for $4 million. Each year the option is renewed, another one-year, $4 million option is added.
Suddenly, though, there's some question about how long the soft-tossing veteran will go on.
"Based on the information I'm getting from the doctors, I'm seriously at risk of injuring myself for the rest of my life," said Wakefield, who described the injury as inflammation in the back of his right shoulder. "So that had a lot of weight in the decision."
Right-hander Kyle Snyder was added to the roster in Wakefield's
place. The long reliever went 2-3 with a 3.81 ERA in 46 games, all
out of the bullpen, and was not on the roster for the first two
Wakefield missed one start late in the season and finished at
17-12 with a 4.76 ERA.
Manager Terry Francona said the shoulder has been an issue for the past two months.
"The recovery time between each start has been getting more and more difficult," Francona said. "Sometimes arriving at the right thing to do is not the fun thing to do."
"Lester threw today extensively," Francona said. "He's not being groomed for the bullpen tomorrow."
One of the Rockies' pitchers in Denver will be Cook, set to go in Game 4. He's been sidelined since Aug. 10 with a strained side muscle and finished the season at 8-7 with a 4.12 ERA.
Francona said he had an easy choice in deciding who will start in center field for the opener against Rockies lefty Jeff Francis.
It will be lefty Jacoby Ellsbury, who took over for a slumping Coco Crisp in Games 6 and 7 of the ALCS against the Cleveland Indians. Crisp, a switch-hitter, banged his knee into the wall at the center-field triangle as he ran down the final out, a long drive by Casey Blake.
"He's not feeling real good, not to the point where we'll take him off the roster," Francona said. "It made a very difficult decision maybe not quite as difficult."
He wouldn't say what lineup change he would make when the series moves to Denver for Games 3 and 4 -- and possibly 5 -- when no designated hitter will be used.
"It puts us at a disadvantage," Francona said. "They haven't set their rotation yet for those games. That may have something to do with it."
First baseman Kevin Youkilis, who hit .500 with three homers in the ALCS, third baseman Mike Lowell (.333 with eight RBIs) or designated hitter David Ortiz, playing most of the season with a knee injury, will sit out.
For Wakefield, missing a postseason round is nothing new.
He was upset in 1999, but never complained publicly, when manager Jimy Williams left him off the roster for the ALCS against the New York Yankees after he pitched poorly in the division series. Boston was eliminated 4-1.
Then he missed this year's first-round sweep of the Los Angeles Angels. In his only outing since Sept. 29, Wakefield gave up five runs in 4 2/3 innings in Game 4 of the ALCS when Cleveland took a 3-1 lead.
"The start itself really didn't bother me," he said. "It was the days between that really bothered me to where I couldn't play catch the day after I started or my side [session] was cut short.''
Tests showed no structural damage. But a cortisone shot and medicine haven't gotten him to the point where he's ready to pitch.
"The problem that the doctors are uneasy about is my recovery time," Wakefield said. "If I keep throwing and throwing and throwing with swelling, it may cause impingement. It may tear something."
Ideally, he said, the Red Sox wanted him to pitch in Games 2 and 6. He said he probably could have pitched Thursday night but didn't know how well he could do.
"I don't think it's fair to the 24 guys that are in the clubhouse and I don't think it's fair to the organization," he said. "And I don't think it's fair to me, lastly, that I go out and injure myself and I'm not available for next year or the year after that."