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October 15, 2004

Tim Wakefield

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS: Game Three (Postponed)

Q. What have you done to just combat the rust because it's been so long since your last start?

TIM WAKEFIELD: Last week I threw kind of a simulated couple of innings to some hitters, and then I got Monday's game or Tuesday's game, which really helped, so we'll see what happens.

Q. I'm sure you know your statistics over these recent years against the Yankees have been overall very good. Do you have any theories why they seem to have such trouble with your knuckleball?

TIM WAKEFIELD: No, I don't. Why does Detroit own me? I don't know. You know, there's other teams that hit me well, and other teams that don't. I don't have the answers for that.

Q. One of the guys who has hit you guys pretty well is Matsui; what are your impressions of him as a hitter and how do you try and approach him?

TIM WAKEFIELD: Compared to last year, this year, he's really improved a lot. I think maybe it took him about a year to get used to the pitching in the League. I know he was a great hitter in Japan. He's a tough hitter to get out, you know, because he hits good breaking balls that you throw him. If you try to pitch him away, he seems to go the other way. He's an all-around great hitter. So my approach to him is just try to get him to swing and miss at knuckleballs, basically.

Q. It appears to be pretty wet and sloppy tomorrow; does the cold and wet weather make a difference for you?

TIM WAKEFIELD: Not really, as long as it's not a downpour, I think I'll be okay. Obviously, holding on to a ball with your fingertips, if it's raining, it makes it even harder to hold onto it. If it's damp or cold outside, it isn't going to be too bad.

Q. How long did it take you to get over last year's game, and now that you're playing again does it come back into your mind?

TIM WAKEFIELD: No, it didn't take me long to get into it. It's another year. We finished this year. That was last year and we're in the same situation as we were last year.

Q. In what ways has Doug Mirabelli helped you hone your craft and what do you think in general about working with him?

TIM WAKEFIELD: Doug has been great over the past two years catching me every single day. He's gotten to know my personality a lot better, and know how to use my other pitches effectively. He's done a great job. He's a veteran catcher although he doesn't get a chance to play very much, he catches me every time. So, I think offensively, he's done a great job this year, considering he's only got a few at-bats. But he's always ready. He works hard in between my starts as far as getting his hitting timing down and whenever he's called upon, he's done a good job.

Q. How hard is it to put how a series stands out of your mind when you pitch, whether you're pitching down 0-3 or up 2-1, 2-2, etc.?

TIM WAKEFIELD: It's not very hard. As a pitcher, you're just taking it one hitter at a time, basically. You can narrow it down to one pitch at a time regardless of what the series stands. I can't control the other part of it. I can only control when I'm out there trying to throw each pitch the best that I can and try to get as many outs as I can.

Q. With the natural frustrations a catcher deals with the knuckleball what about Mirabelli's makeup has allowed him to persevere and basically become a personal catcher for you?

TIM WAKEFIELD: You know, when he first came over, he's got great hands, which enables him to catch me very, very well. He throws the ball very well. It's the nature of the pitch, it's not coming to the plate very fast. Doug has got a great arm to throw guys out. I think his personality really helps in knowing that if he misses one it doesn't real bother me too much. I know he's frustrated with it but I kind of give him a little eye contact to say, hey, it's all right, try to get the hitter out.

Q. Some hitters are particularly good at hitting breaking stuff, some are extremely good at hitting fastballs. What kind of hitters are best at hitting the knuckler?

TIM WAKEFIELD: I don't know. Honestly, I don't know. You'd have to ask some of the guys that are, you know, more of a stat guy. I really don't know. Big swingers, contact guys, honestly, I can't tell you.

Q. Coming into the series everybody gave the Red Sox the pitching advantage, particularly in Game 1 and Game 2; it didn't work out that way. How would you characterize where the staff is now? Do you feel like you still have something to prove that way or just in general, what's the mood?

TIM WAKEFIELD: You know, like you said, it didn't go as well as we expected it to go. Mussina pitched great. Lieber pitched unbelievable. We're finding ourselves in a situation where we're down 2-0 but we're at home. Bronson is taking the mound tonight. We're confident in him. I'm pitching tomorrow and Derek will have a lot of confidence to pitch Game 5. After that, we'll figure it out when the time comes.

Q. People don't know that much about the knuckleball, but do you have a very good idea about where it's going to end up when you throw it, or is it really just about the environment that you throw it in?

TIM WAKEFIELD: I have an idea. I don't have control of the depth of movement. Sometimes one will fall off the table. Sometimes one will jump around a little bit and go straight. But I kind of have an idea of where it's going to end up; hopefully in the strike zone.

Q. In terms of that level of unpredictability about the movement and the depth of it, how much of an issue is it when you have a guy on third base? These have been close games that you guys play with the Yankees; how much of an issue is it to you?

TIM WAKEFIELD: It's a non-issue for me. I'm not too worried about it. I have a lot of faith in my catcher to catch it, and, you know, I don't see it to be a problem. It hasn't been over the last 11 years.

End of FastScripts...

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