Could Tim Wakefield have a tough time making the Red Sox?

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Tim Wakefield gave up six runs on seven hits — including four home runs in the span of six batters– over three innings in last night’s loss to the Rays.

Ugly, yes, but normally we’d say no big deal. Sometimes the knuckleball dances just right and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s nothing Red Sox fans haven’t seen in his 16 previous years with the club.

But the outing takes on added importance in light of Terry Francona’s comments earlier in the day. According to Evan Drellich of MLB.com, Francona offered no assurances that the 44-year-old would make the Opening Day roster.

“We’re going to have some interesting decisions to make here come this last week,” the Red Sox manager said.

The main issue is that Alfredo Aceves has emerged as a reasonable alternative for the bullpen. The 29-year-old right-hander is back to full health and capable of starting or relieving. Meanwhile, Wakefield is coming off his worst season since 1993 and looked uncomfortable in a swingman role.

Of course, Wakefield has his advantages in this situation. He remains a fan favorite and is under contract for $2 million this season. And while Aceves has impressed this spring by posting a 3.48 ERA over 10 1/3 innings, he has options remaining and could open the season as a starter with Triple-A Pawtucket. In turn, two club sources told Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com that Wakefield’s spot in the bullpen is safe. I have my doubts about whether he’ll last the whole season with the club, but logic says he’ll at least be there come Opening Day.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.