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.

Giants remove pitching coach Dave Righetti

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After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.

According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.

Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.

Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.