There would seem to be better places for venerable Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield to begin his 2007 than Texas, where he is 4-10 lifetime with a 5.95 ERA. But after the season Wakefield had last year, he's just glad to be starting anew.
For the first time in Wakefield's career, he was the victim of a significant injury. A strained ribcage kept him off the mound for more than two months at a time the Red Sox couldn't afford to be down one of their most durable starters.
The pain lingered for Wakefield, and now he's ready to make it all go away.
"It hurt inside," Wakefield said during Spring Training. "Never being on the DL my whole career and then having to spend two months on it, knowing what the team was going through, I was trying my best to get back on the field, but it was sickening being on the bench not being able to help. With the injuries we had last year, it seemed like everybody got hurt at the same time and we were in the thick of things at the time and it just felt like the wheels came off and we couldn't recover from that."
Wakefield showed no ill effects from the injury during the exhibition season, posting a 4.29 ERA and recording 15 strikeouts over 21 innings.
"Everything felt fine as soon as I started throwing," Wakefield said. "I was pleased that it wasn't going to bother me again."
The Red Sox, fresh of taking two out of three in Kansas City, will try to spoil the home opener for the Rangers.
And after a frigid couple of days in K.C., the Sox were looking forward to feeling that Arlington warmth.
"It's going to be like when I go on vacation to the Dominican in the winter," said Sox slugger David Ortiz.
BOS: RHP Tim Wakefield (7-11, 4.63 in 2006)
The veteran knuckleballer looks forward to bouncing back after an injury-riddled 2006. This is Wakefield's 13th season with the Red Sox. Wakefield's 1,570 strikeouts with the Red Sox rank him third on the team's all-time list, trailing only Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez. Last year against the Rangers, Wakefield was 0-1 with a 7.59 ERA.
TEX: RHP Robinson Tejeda (5-5, 4.28 ERA in 2006)
Tejeda had the lowest ERA of any Rangers starter with at least 14 starts. He was 4-2 with a 2.32 ERA in his last nine starts. He made three starts against the Angels last year and was 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA. He was 5-2 with a 3.10 ERA in nine road starts. He was the Rangers Player of the Month for September, the only time that a pitcher won the award in 2006.
Player to watch
Frank Catalanotto, who did plenty of damage against the Sox in his days with the Blue Jays, is a .333 hitter lifetime against Wakefield, including three homers.
Saturday: Red Sox (RHP Julian Tavarez, 5-4, 4.47 in 2006) at Rangers (RHP Kevin Millwood, 0-1, 5.40), 8:05 p.m. ET
Sunday: Red Sox (RHP Curt Schilling, 0-1, 11.25) at Rangers (RHP Vicente Padilla, 0-1, 11.57), 8:05 p.m. ET
Tuesday: Red Sox (RHP Josh Beckett, 1-0, 1.80) vs. Mariners (RHP Miguel Batista, 0-1, 15.43), 2:05 p.m. ET
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.