Red Sox

Red Sox' Tim Wakefield wins Roberto Clemente Award

191542.jpg

Red Sox' Tim Wakefield wins Roberto Clemente Award

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Wakefield has won nearly 200 games in the big leagues, been a part of two world champions and, in his 17th season, was selected to the All-Star Game for the first time.

But when asked Thursday where winning the 2010 Roberto Clemente Award ranked among his many career highlights, Wakefield didn't hesitate.

"This is the ultimate. This is the highest,'' said Wakefield at a press conference prior to Game Two of the World Series. "This has nothing to do with baseball, or your statistics or anything. This has to do with your character. I take a lot of pride in my character, which ultimately is the highest accomplishment you can attain, it's the highest compliment you can get from somebody.

"I'm very humbled and honored at the same time to accept this award.''

Wakefield, 44, is the first Red Sox recipient to be honored with the award, which has been given annually since 1971, and since 1973 has been named for the late Pittsburgh Pirate great who died in a plane crash while on a relief mission to Nicaragua on Dec. 31, 1972.

Past winners have included Hall of Famers such as Willie Mays, Brooks Robinson, Tony Gwynn, and Al Kaline. Last year's winner was Derek Jeter.

The award is determined by a panel including commissioner Bud Selig and Vera Clemente, the Hall of Fame outfielder's widow. Fan voting is also incorporated into the process.

Wakefield long ago earned a reputation as one of Boston's most generous athletes when it comes to charitable endeavors. Each Tuesday when the Red Sox are home during the regular season, Wakefield hosts "Wakefield's Warriors,'' taking children from the Franciscan Hospital for Children and Dana Farber Clinic to meet Wakefield and watch batting practice at Fenway. He also hosts the annual Tim Wakefield Celebrity Golf tournament, which benefits special needs children in his hometown of Melbourne, Fla.

In addition, Wakefield works with Jason Varitek on the Pitching in for Kids program and generously donates to Teammates for Kids, a foundation run by country singer Garth Brooks.

Wakefield, who was originally drafted and signed by the Pirates, said he was aware of Clemente at a young age.

"Coming up in the Pirate organization,'' said Wakefield, "I got to witness first-hand what his legacy really meant and I've tried to continue to carry that torch into Boston . . . He was one of the greatest Pirates ever to put the uniform on. You knew not only his on-the-field contributions as a Pittsburgh Pirate, but you knew about his off-the-field contributions as well.

"It wasn't something that was harped upon by veteran players. You knew who Roberto Clemente was, what he meant and the ultimate sacrifice he paid for everything he did off the field. Not only was he a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but what he did off the field really epitomizes what I think athletes should be like.

"It doesn't really matter what you do on the field; what matters most is making a difference in someone else's life and Roberto was a class act when it came to that.''

"In addition to winning nearly 200 games in his career,'' said Selig, "Wakefield has been an All-Star when it comes to charitable initiatives for a long time . . . His efforts to help those in need has been remarkable.''

Each Major League team nominates one player annually and Wakefield had previously been nominated seven times before being chosen.

"You deserved this a long time ago,'' said Vera Clemente, the late Hall of Famer's wife. "God bless you.''

Phil Caruso, representing Chevrolet, the corporate sponsor of the award, added: "We all know about your accomplishments on the field. They're very well documented across the board. But it's your dedication to your activities off the field and the impact on the lives of the children that will last with them forever. You're truly a hero on and off the field.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

BOSTON — As soon as the American League Championship Series ends, the Red Sox could make a move for their manager.

Industry sources continue to expect Astros bench coach Alex Cora will be the Sox’ pick. No offer had been officially made as of midday Wednesday, one source close to the situation said. But the belief is such an offer waits out of respect to the Astros-Yankees ALCS that can end no later than Saturday if the series goes a full seven games. 

MORE:

“Not a doubt it is him,” the source said.

Sunday and Monday would both be off days ahead of the Tuesday night start of the World Series. That leads to the potential for at least a Red Sox announcement of Cora, if not a press conference, before the Fall Classic begins. (If the Astros advance to the World Series, it may be harder to have Cora in Boston for any length of time.)

All those who know Cora praise his ability to connect with players. The former Red Sox infielder is good friends with Dustin Pedroia. Cora’s previous knowledge of the Boston market works in his favor, as well, as does his mettle handling the media. Some question his readiness as a first-time manager, considering he would be taking over a team with great win-now expectations and complicated clubhouse dynamics.

Nothing takes the place of experience and there is such a thing as being too close to players. Ultimately, if the Sox do land Cora, 41, they would be adding the hottest up-and-coming managerial prospect who’s available on the market. The everybody-wants-him reputation could give Cora added cachet with players and certainly becomes a public-relations win for those fans following the search.

The Sox interviewed Ron Gardenhire on Wednesday. Gardenhire was the third candidate the Sox talked to and could well be the last. Cora met with the Sox on Sunday, followed by Brad Ausmus on Monday.
 

NLCS: Cubs avoid sweep, top Dodgers 3-2 to cut series deficit to 3-1

cubs_javier_baez_101817.jpg

NLCS: Cubs avoid sweep, top Dodgers 3-2 to cut series deficit to 3-1

CHICAGO -- Javier Baez sensed he was ready to bust out of his slump and give the Chicago Cubs the lift they needed.

As breakthroughs go, this was a big one. Just in time to keep the season going for the defending champs.

Baez snapped an 0-for-20 skid with two home runs, Wade Davis hung on for a six-out save and Cubs avoided a sweep, holding off the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

"We have to be much more offensive," manager Joe Maddon said. "It's got to start happening tomorrow. We're going to do this. Going to pull this off, we have to become more offensive tomorrow."

Baez finally got going with a pair of solo drives .

Jake Arrieta pitched three-hit ball into the seventh inning to help the Cubs close their deficit to 3-1. Maddon got ejected for the second time in this series in the eighth, and a packed Wrigley Field crowd watched Davis get Cody Bellinger to ground into a game-ending double play.

Maddon was heavily criticized for not using Davis during a 4-1 loss in Game 2. This time, the Cubs closer threw 48 pitches to finish the job.

Willson Contreras also homered for the Cubs. Bellinger and Justin Turner connected for the Dodgers, who had won a team-record six straight playoff games.

Game 5 is Thursday, with Jose Quintana pitching for Chicago against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.

"They're the world champs, and you know they're going to fight to the end," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "So today, they did. We got beat today."

Baez hit solo drives in the second and fifth after going hitless in his first 20 playoff at-bats. He had been watching videos and felt his timing was starting to come back in recent trips to the plate.

"I just need to take a step back and see what's going on," he said.

Contreras added a long homer against Alex Wood.

Davis entered with a 3-1 lead in the eighth. He gave up a leadoff homer to Turner, who went 2 for 2 and drew two walks.

Maddon became incensed that a swinging strike three against Curtis Granderson was ruled a foul after the umpires discussed the play. Maddon got tossed, and Granderson struck out swinging at the next pitch.

And after walking Yasmani Grandal to put runners on first and second, Davis struck out Chase Utley , who is hitless in his last 24 postseason at-bats.

All seven of Chicago's runs in this series have come on homers. And long drives in the second by Contreras and Baez made it 2-0.

"Great to have this win, because if not we were going home tomorrow," Baez said. "But I feel like we're still not on track as a team. But I think if we get back on track, everybody as a team, we're going to be the best again."

Contreras' 491-foot homer banged off the left-field videoboard and Baez sent a towering drive out to left.

Bellinger cut it to 2-1 with his drive to right in the third. But Baez got the lead back up to two with a shot to the left-field bleachers in the fifth, the raucous crowd chanting "Javy! Javy!" for the flashy young star who was co-MVP of the NLCS last year.

No Cubs player had hit two in a playoff game since Alex Gonzalez went deep twice in Game 2 of the 2003 NLCS against Miami.

Arrieta exited with runners on first and second in the seventh after walking Chris Taylor on a 3-2 pitch. He tipped his hat as fans gave him a standing ovation, a fitting show of appreciation for a pitcher with an expiring contract.

"Hopefully, it's not a goodbye, it's a thank you, obviously," Arrieta said. "I still intend to have another start in this ballpark. If that's where it ends, I did my best and I left it all out there."

Arrieta turns 32 in March and figures to land a huge deal in free agency. The trade that brought him from Baltimore helped fuel Chicago's rise, with the right-hander capturing the 2015 NL Cy Young Award and contributing to last year's drought-busting championship run.

Limited by a right hamstring injury in the final month of the season, he threw 111 pitches. Brian Duensing retired Bellinger on a fly to end the seventh.

Turner made it a one-run game with his homer off the left-field videoboard against Davis in the eighth.

A career-high 16-game winner, Wood gave up three runs and four hits in 42/3 innings.

"The only frustrating thing is we fell a run short," Turner said. "We played a great game, they played a great game. They just hit one more ball over the fence than we did."

FINISHING UP

Maddon said Davis would not be available on Thursday.

"So other guys got to do it," Maddon said. "We have to be much more offensive. It's got to start happening tomorrow. We're going to do this. Going to pull this off, we have to become more offensive tomorrow."

QUOTABLE

Chicago's Kyle Schwarber on all the Cubs' runs coming on homers in the series: "That's fine. A run's a run, anyway you can get them in. Obviously, we want to manufacture some runs, but we won a ballgame 3-2 hitting homers; I'll take that, too."

UP NEXT

Dodgers: The Dodgers turn to Kershaw to try to wrap up the series. The three-time NL Cy Young winner went five innings in Game 1, allowing two runs, and has a 4.76 ERA in two postseason starts this year.

Cubs: Quintana pitched five innings of two-hit ball in Game 1, one day after his wife, Michel, was taken off the team plane in Albuquerque with a medical ailment.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE