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

Updated: October 2, 2007, 7:59 PM ET
Associated Press

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

Tim Wakefield

Wakefield

Starting Pitcher
Boston Red Sox

Profile

2007 Season Stats
GM W L BB K ERA
31 17 12 64 110 4.76

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.

Gary Matthews Jr.

Matthews Jr.

Center Field
Los Angeles Angels

Profile

2007 Season Stats
GM HR RBI R OBP AVG
140 18 72 79 .323 .252

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.

Bartolo Colon

Colon

Starting Pitcher
Los Angeles Angels

Profile

2007 Season Stats
GM W L BB K ERA
19 6 8 29 76 6.34

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.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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