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October 22, 2004

Tim Wakefield


Q. Yesterday in New York, Joe Torre said that he's obviously disappointed the Yankees didn't advance, but the flipside is guys like Tim Wakefield get to go to the World Series. I don't know if you're aware of that comment, but can I have your reaction to it?

TIM WAKEFIELD: It means a lot that Joe would actually mention my name in his interview when they were packing up going home. I have a lot of respect for that man over there. I've played against him for a long time and watched him win a lot of championships over there. And for him to say something that nice about me, really shows how passionate he is for not only the game, but for other players on other teams.

Q. You made a lot of big starts, big appearances in the post-season before, can you just give us your thoughts on what it's going to be like tomorrow night when you take the mound here?

TIM WAKEFIELD: You know, I'm excited. This is the first time I've ever experienced a World Series and it's the first time in the city the Boston has experienced THE World Series since '86. I think it's a real honor that I'm getting the nod for Game 1. It's kind of ironic that, you know, if Derek doesn't pitch as well as he does in Game 7, I don't get to start. So I have him to thank for that. He pitched his tail off in Game 7 to give us a chance to win, and it's really amazing what he accomplished over his two starts in Game 4 and Game 7.

Q. We were talking to Terry about your willingness and your ability to be whatever they need whenever they need it. I just wonder what your philosophy is about available, I mean, because you've been in some spots that most guys would not want to be in.

TIM WAKEFIELD: Yeah, ever since I've been here, I've always been that type of player that I always have my spikes on, no matter what. I've been used to pinch-hit a couple of times, I've been used in the emergency relief duty. I just feel like as an athlete, you've got to be prepared for anything that may be thrown at you at any particular point in the game. There are days where I'm not available, but this is the post-season and you have to be available for anything. I take a lot of pride in being able to do that.

Q. This isn't necessarily in reference to your start tomorrow night, but being a pitcher in this stadium and having the green monster not that far away from you, is it something a pitcher thinks of when they come into this park, knowing that they have got that historic wall not too far away from them?

TIM WAKEFIELD: I've seen it frighten a lot of people that come in here to play for the first time. But playing here for the past ten years, it can hurt and you it can help you at times. I've seen some line drives that would go out of most parks that ended up hitting off the wall, and the left fielder gets it into second base for only a single. And I've seen pop-ups that go over the fence that are outs in other parks. So until you're used to what it can give and you what it can take away from you, it can be a little bit intimidating for an opposing pitcher to come in here, yes.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about what kind of impact Terry Francona has had here in his first year as manager?

TIM WAKEFIELD: Terry has had a great impact on all of us. You know, he's a player's manager. He's the type of manager that tries to get the best out of every player. That's a tough job at this level. You're dealing with 25 different personalities in that clubhouse, and you've got to kind of be a little bit of a psychologist a little bit. But his knowledge for the game is unprecedented. Really, him and his staff has really done a great job getting us prepared with the stat that is we need to try to go out there and win ballgames and he's done a great job since he's been here.

Q. Can you break down the Cardinals lineup?

TIM WAKEFIELD: No, unfortunately. (Laughing). They have got a tough lineup. It's pretty similar to the one we just saw in New York. You've got speed at the top, you've got dangerous guys in the middle. And it's kind of like ours, too. It's just one of those lineups that you have got to be very careful of because they can do a lot of damage quick.

Q. Do you find that hitters who have never seen you before have a hard time adjusting, and are there any players in the Cardinals who you have never faced either in spring training or in the regular season?

TIM WAKEFIELD: Yes and no. The first time facing guys, can be a little tough for both of us, because I really don't know how they are going to approach me. And I'm sure they don't know how to approach myself either. It's a tough situation. I don't think if there's anybody over there that I haven't faced over my career. Edmonds, I've faced him a lot, whether it's regular season or even spring training, a lot of those guys I've faced before.

Q. If the weather is the way it is today, damp, a little windy, how does that affect your knuckleball?

TIM WAKEFIELD: As long as it's not raining too bad, it should be okay. It's tough holding on to a ball with your fingertips when it could be cold and maybe a little bit dry are than it is right now. I think the humidity may help a little bit. But I think it's going to be tough conditions for both pitchers tomorrow night.

Q. I know you've already talked a little bit about pitching Game 1, but given where you were in Game 7 of the LCS a year ago to now be able to start this series, can you talk about what it means to you in that way?

TIM WAKEFIELD: It really means a lot to me. I was kind of overhearing Doug, and Doug and I have talked about this, even last year I was game starter of the World Series last year, and it's kind of nice that we run into the situation again. But it's better to be in the situation than not having what happened last year, having that happen. So, I'm going to try to do my best to take full advantage of the opportunity that I have tomorrow night and try to bring this city a world championship.

Q. Can you talk about working with Varitek and if that's a problematic situation for him having not caught you quite as much?

TIM WAKEFIELD: You know, Jason did a great job with me the other night. The ball was moving all over the place; he missed a couple balls, but he did a tremendous job catching me. He's done a tremendous job over the past ten years or six years that he's been here of catching me. He caught me all year in '98 I think, '99. And he's just, I think the biggest problem that he had not caught me all year this year and we get into some post-season play and he's having to catch me. It's tough. It's a tough situation to be in, but he's a good enough athlete that he made some adjustments and professional enough that he did a great job to get us out of that inning.

Q. Is there any way to contrast your emotions from now versus after Game 7 last year, and in the past, were you the type of player who watched the World Series on TV, or just didn't want to deal with it if the team fell short?

TIM WAKEFIELD: I watched a little bit of it last year. I was disappointed the way it ended last year, but my feelings from last year to this year are completely different, obviously. Having to walk off the mound a loser last year, and getting a chance to celebrate on the same field that we lost last year was a huge honor for us, for all of us that were there last year and went through what we did last year. I'm just thankful that we get the opportunity to play longer and play into the World Series.

Q. When were you told you were going to be the Game 1 starter? And was it good news, bad news, that you wouldn't start Game 7 in New York? A lot of us thought you would, but you will start in Game 1. And the letdown factor, a lot of people thought after last year's Yankees, Red Sox, the Yankees had a letdown; and how do you fight that and maybe will starting at home, will that fight it?

TIM WAKEFIELD: The first part of your question was, I kind of found out early before Game 7 started. I knew I wasn't going to start that game the night before. And then Wally and Tito both told me that if Derek was pitching well enough to get to the fifth or sixth inning, then they were going to try to save me to be a Game 1 starter for the World Series. But I was still available in case we ran into the same situation that we ran into last year and we went into extra innings. I think Bronson was the first guy up for extra innings, and after that, I think I would be the only guy left down there to come in and pitch. I'm just thankful we got a chance to beat them and I'm getting the opportunity to start Game 1.

Q. And follow up on that, the letdown, the Yankees had a letdown, it seemed like, after the big series; how do you fight that?

TIM WAKEFIELD: Well, I mean, it's a tough situation. Everybody says that the Yankees/Red Sox series is always the World Series, but you know, it was a tough battle the whole series, all seven games. The way it unfolded for us in our clubhouse is truly amazing. I still scratch my head and figure out how the heck we did what we did, but we did it. I think having yesterday off really helps and getting us back to focus on our main goal, and that's to try to win the World Series. I don't think it will be too big of a letdown for us.

Q. Can you talk about how you felt for the fans, and the city, you've played here for so long, you know the history, and regardless of what happens from here on in, that was a very special win for a Red Sox nation the other night.

TIM WAKEFIELD: You're absolutely right. You know, some of us were talking on the bus on the way back, regardless of the outcome of the World Series -- obviously we all want to try to win it, but I think we accomplished a huge goal for the City of Boston; that we finally beat the Yankees in the LCS to get to the World Series. It's not over yet. We still have a tough team coming in to face in the World Series, and we're going to do our very best to try to bring this city a championship.

Q. Considering your success and longevity with the knuckleball, are you surprised that other pitchers haven't taken it up or there are guys that don't start their careers throwing it?

TIM WAKEFIELD: Yes and no. It's a very -- I feel very fortunate that God blessed me with the ability to do what I do. It's not easy. I've worked with younger pitchers that are trying to accomplish what I'm doing right now and I've talked with guys, you know, like Hough and Niekro and Wilbur Wood and guys like that and realized how hard it was when they were doing it. We have a young man in our Minor League system that's working on his knuckleball right now that I've worked with in spring training. You know, it's a difficult pitch to try to teach. I think you really have to be blessed with the ability to have that feel of what it feels like to take the spin off the ball and get as much movement as you can on it.

End of FastScripts...

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