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01/20/11 6:34 PM EST

Wakefield won't rule out pitching after 2011

BOSTON -- Tim Wakefield will turn 45 in August, at which point he will be in the latter stages of his 16th season with the Red Sox. Is this definitely going to be the last season of Wakefield's career?

"No, no, no," said Wakefield, who is entering the final season of his contract. "The door is always open. Until you actually see me sit down at that press conference and say that I'm going to retire, I wouldn't count on anything right now. I just said it last year -- that [2011] could be my last year, depending on my role or what might happen health-wise, but I'm not closing that door yet, by no means."

But because there's a chance this will be his final chapter, Wakefield is determined to enjoy the season, no matter what his role is. He's very candid about the fact that was hard for him last year.

After making the American League All-Star team in 2009, Wakefield assumed he would again be in the rotation, as long as he was healthy coming off back surgery.

Instead, Clay Buchholz emerged in dramatic fashion and Wakefield wound up being a swingman, something that was hard for him to stomach.

"Like I said before, I think going into it now, knowing what it might be, I think it's a little easier to handle," Wakefield said. "I fought myself last year, thinking that it was my job to lose, and unfortunately that wasn't the case. It was a little hard to swallow -- I'll be honest with you."

As it turns out, the best thing that happened to Wakefield in 2010 came off the field, when he was named Major League Baseball's recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award.

Wakefield has long been a star in the community, both in Boston and his hometown of Melbourne, Fla. While the Boston Baseball Writers' Association of America recognized Wakefield for being the Clemente winner at its annual dinner on Thursday night, the group will take it a step further next year when it unveils an annual award in Wakefield's name. That award will be presented each year to a baseball figure who best exemplifies Wakefield's charitable spirit.

"It's very special," said Wakefield. "I joked when I found out. Normally they name awards after dead guys. I'm not dead yet. I'm excited. It's a very special thing."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.