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Wakefield's back, Matthews' knee, Colon's elbow not ready

BOSTON -- Tim Wakefield, Gary Matthews Jr. and Bartolo Colon
will be sitting out the first round of the AL playoffs.

The Boston Red Sox left Wakefield off the playoff roster for
their first-round series against the Los Angeles Angels because of
his ailing back. The Angels scratched Matthews because of a left
knee injury that hadn't improved enough by the time he tested it at
the team's workout on Tuesday.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said earlier Tuesday that Colon
would be on the roster for the best-of-5 series that starts
Wednesday at Fenway Park. But after feeling pain in his right elbow
during the workout, he was replaced in the bullpen by right-hander
Dustin Moseley.

Matthews, who has never been in the playoffs since breaking into
the majors in 1999, will be replaced in center field by
Reggie Willits, and on the roster by Erick Aybar.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Tuesday the goal was to get
Wakefield healthy enough for later in the playoffs, should the Red
Sox advance. The knuckleballer threw Tuesday, but not well enough
to be effective as a long reliever during the short series since
he's unlikely to get a start.

"We all know Wake. He bleeds for us," Francona said. "But he
understands this is the right thing to do. We were going to
possibly put him in a situation that was not fair to him or the
team."

Wakefield was 17-12 with a 4.76 ERA in 31 starts this season. He
declined to comment before the decision was announced and wasn't
available after.

The Red Sox will carry a third catcher, Kevin Cash, who played
12 games this season after being called up in mid-August. Francona
said the move would give the Red Sox more flexibility to make
substitutions, particularly with speedy rookie outfielder
Jacoby Ellsbury.

"We want Ellsbury to be able to impact games, if needed, and
that can mean running for a number of different people," Francona
said.

Scioscia said before the workout that he wanted to make sure
Matthews would be able to help the team in the series, which will
have five games played over eight days.

"We have a series a little spread out in the next two or three
days," Scioscia said. "Is he going to be functional enough to go
out and play center field? If not, then he most likely will not be
activated for the series."

Matthews hit .252 with 18 home runs, 72 RBIs and 18 steals this
season. Colon was 6-8 with a 6.34 ERA.

Wakefield was left off the playoff roster once before, in the AL
Championship Series against New York in 1999. That year, the
versatile Wakefield went back-and-forth between starting and
closing because of injuries to reliever Tom Gordon.

Wakefield had a strong start to this season and string of 22
scoreless innings over three starts in August. But he was scratched
from an outing on Aug. 31 because of the back injury, and wasn't as
effective after his return, winning just once in five starts.

Before beating Minnesota in Saturday's AL East clincher,
Wakefield was 0-2 with a 10.70 ERA in his previous four starts.

Francona said he had hoped to use Wakefield in long relief.
Jon Lester will step into that role.

"Now doing this, we can slow [Wakefield] down, his throwing,
not rush him into two or three innings in a game where's he's not
ready, and get him ready for a start, hopefully, later on," he
said.