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October 12, 2003

Tim Wakefield

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS: Game Four (Postponed)

Q. After the New York game, are there a couple of questions about the physics of throwing a knuckleball, after all you've accomplished at this point in your career, does it bother you people are still fascinated by the novelty of what you do as opposed to the results?

TIM WAKEFIELD: I'm kind of honored people are interested in the pitch, but the same questions year after year after year, I figured once I talked about it a couple of times people would kind of get the picture. It's interesting to me to know the physics of what goes on behind my pitch.

Q. In any of the games that your team has played at Yankee Stadium, have you ever felt unsafe or have any of your teammates ever expressed to you that they felt unsafe while at Yankee Stadium?

TIM WAKEFIELD: Not at all. I haven't heard any concern of safety reasons for myself or my teammates. New York does a great job as far as -- and especially the family section -- they do a great job controlling our guests and families up there.

Q. Does it make any difference that you see the Yankees within a week, as opposed to during the regular season when you might have a break playing against them?

TIM WAKEFIELD: No. I think during the course of the regular season, I pitched against them four times, and both times were consecutive starts. Like I think Roger and I faced against each other here and then their place and again the same thing happened my next two starts, consecutive starts.

Q. Should it make a difference for the hitters on a team if they have seen you a couple of times in a week, can they catch on to something in a knuckleball pitcher, or is it just going to be completely unpredictable for them a second time?

TIM WAKEFIELD: I think you'd have to ask the Yankee hitters that. I mean, I can't answer that question honestly. I mean, I've had back-to-back starts against the same club, done well and other times, I've done poorly in my second start. Or pitched poorly against them in my first start and then pitched great against them in my second start. So you'd have to ask the hitters that question.

Q. Win or lose today, your start tomorrow is going to be pretty crucial, you are either pitching to save the season, or to obviously break a 2-2 tie. What kind of mindset is that, especially today, considering that as of right now, you don't know what the status is going to be of the game?

TIM WAKEFIELD: Well, with every game, it's important when you get into this time of the year, playoff contention, we were down two games to zero against Oakland and every game was important there. And even though we are only down 2-1, tonight is just as important as tomorrow night and just as important as Wednesday and Thursday night back New York. So every game you have to take seriously. It doesn't really matter what the series score is, but I think every start and every game is just as important as the other one.

Q. You don't have to recount everything that happened last night, but two guys on your team who were heavily involved in all of the activity, Manny and Pedro, don't speak to the media. How much more of an onus does that put on you guys in the clubhouse to have to answer for things that you were not involved in?

TIM WAKEFIELD: I don't speak for those guys. If you want to ask me a question concerning last night, ask me the question, but as far as last night is concerned, it's an emotional time of year for everybody. And sometimes your emotions take control over your thinking and it was just one of those situations that got a little bit out of hand last night. But I don't expect that there will be any repercussions the rest of the series.

Q. You talked about keeping your emotions under control; was that something you were able to do in 1992 when you were on the Pirates or something you have learned over the years?

TIM WAKEFIELD: I think in 1992 I was a little scared. I was pitching with fear, which may have helped me a little bit. Over the last ten years, I've been able to learn to try to control my emotions and I'm going to try to do the same thing tomorrow night.

Q. This may be one of those questions you get a lot, I don't know, but do you think as a knuckleball pitcher, that your stuff and your command on a given outing is more of a mystery, outing to outing, is more of a mystery to you, than, say, Pedro or Roger Clemens?

TIM WAKEFIELD: Not really. I think it can be the same. Obviously, a conventional pitcher sometimes doesn't have his best stuff. As for me, it's all a feel. I may not feel it one day, but I still have to go out there and pitch and try to get outs. I've answered this question a bunch, to indicate if I've got my good stuff. I can't really say that because I've come out of the bullpen thinking I've got great stuff and I get into a game and I can't get it over the plate or it's not moving well or something happens and vice versa. I've left the pen thinking "Oh, my gosh, I'm not even going to last one inning," and I'm going six or seven strong innings. There's really not an indicator to tell me if I feel like I have it. I try to use my time in the bullpen prior to the game just trying to get loose and trying to get a feel of the pitch.

Q. You've been here awhile and obviously one of the keys to you is the focus you have the 24 hours before you pitch. With the emotion of the series, are you going to have to be extra guarded over the next 24 hours to have that focus that you always have?

TIM WAKEFIELD: Extra guarded in what concern?

Q. Emotionally.

TIM WAKEFIELD: Well, I'm going to take it like any start during the regular year, just prepare myself mentally. It's going to start to have had -- it started yesterday. I'm going to go out and get my work in, whatever I can get done today with the rain, and then come tomorrow, I'll be mentally prepared going into tomorrow.

Q. Going all the way back to Hoyt Wilhelm, a lot of knuckleball pitchers over the years have worn No. 49, is that a ritualistic thing with you guys; are you aware of that?

TIM WAKEFIELD: It was for me. When I first got to the big leagues with the Pirates, I wanted to wear 49 in honor of Charlie Huff and Tom Candiotti. I worked with Charlie Huff that spring before I got called up to the big leagues, so I want wanted to keep the fraternity thing with the number going.

Q. Did you know about Wilhelm?

TIM WAKEFIELD: I learned later that he wore the same number.

Q. On those days where you don't have a great knuckleball, like a conventional pitcher may use more of a change-up or a curve, what adjustments can you make during the course of a game?

TIM WAKEFIELD: The same as any conventional guy. I have other pitches, fastball, curveball, a cut fastball, and over the past ten years, I've learned how to pitch with my knuckleball. If it's not working, I'm still going to throw it, but I'm going to be more cautious in throwing it. And I'm going to try to pitch a little more with it than I would where I feel like I've got great control and it's moving a lot where I'm going to throw it 85 percent of the time.

Q. Just to expand on what Jack asked before, I know you said that you won't answer for, let's say, Manny or Pedro, but do you get a sense some of your teammates are getting tired of having to do that for them?

TIM WAKEFIELD: You'd have to ask them that question. I really can't answer that.

Q. There wasn't a lot of support for Pedro when we asked your teammates about Pedro's pitch last night, everybody said, "we're not talking about it", they dodged the question, they didn't want to talk about it. Is that a sense that maybe they -- why is that? Why do you think that is?

TIM WAKEFIELD: I mean, I come to this room expecting to answer questions on tomorrow's start, not last night's start. So you'd have to go through either the Red Sox or try to get a hold of Pedro somehow. I'm not up here to answer questions on last night's game.

End of FastScripts...

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