After surgery, Wakefield has plans for 2010 and beyond

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Tim Wakefield had surgery Wednesday to repair a herniated disk in his back and said afterward that “everything went awesome.”
He’ll likely be cleared to begin normal offseason training in 4-6 weeks and the Red Sox are expected to pick up his perpetual $4 million option for 2010. In fact, the 43-year-old knuckleballer said yesterday that he has plans to pitch beyond next season.
Wakefield is 11 wins short of 200 for his career and 17 wins away from tying Roger Clemens and Cy Young for the Red Sox’s franchise lead with 192 victories. He’s apparently aiming for both marks, which would almost surely involve pitching through at least 2011.
“Past that, I really can’t tell you,” Wakefield said. “I’m not planning on getting to that point and retiring, if that’s the question you’re asking. I still feel like I can contribute. I still feel like I can compete at the highest level, and I’m going to continue to play as long as my body allows me and as long as the Red Sox want me around.”
Health is obviously the biggest key for Wakefield, because before being sidelined by back problems he went 11-3 with a 4.31 ERA in the first half to make his first All-Star team. He’s posted an ERA in the 4.00s in each of the past seven seasons, so while it’s tough for the Red Sox to count on a 43-year-old knuckleballer with a bad back, prior to the injury he’d shown no indication that his days as a solid fourth starter were over.

Brandon Belt, Jaime Barrios set new modern record with 21-pitch at-bat

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Angels starter Jaime Barrios and Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record with a 21-pitch at-bat in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Anaheim. Belt fell behind 1-2 and mostly kept fouling pitches off. The count ran full on the ninth pitch and Belt would foul off 11 more pitches before finally lining out to right field.

As Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle notes, the previous record was set on June 26, 1998 when the Indians’ Bartolo Colon and the Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez battled for 20 pitches. Gutierrez eventually struck out.