BOSTON Tim Wakefield, Gary Matthews Jr. and Bartolo Colon will be sitting out the first round of the AL playoffs.
The Boston Red Sox left Wakefield off the playoff roster for their first-round series against the Los Angeles Angels because of his ailing back. The Angels scratched Matthews because of a left knee injury that hadn't improved enough by the time he tested it at the team's workout on Tuesday.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said earlier Tuesday that Colon would be on the roster for the best-of-5 series that starts tonight at Fenway Park. But after feeling pain in his right elbow during the workout, he was replaced in the bullpen by right-hander Dustin Moseley.
Matthews, who has never been in the playoffs since breaking into the majors in 1999, will be replaced in center field by Reggie Willits, and on the roster by Erick Aybar.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Tuesday the goal was to get Wakefield healthy enough for later in the playoffs, should the Red Sox advance. The knuckleballer threw Tuesday, but not well enough to be effective as a long reliever during the short series since he's unlikely to get a start.
"We all know Wake. He bleeds for us," Francona said. "But he understands this is the right thing to do. We were going to possibly put him in a situation that was not fair to him or the team."
Wakefield was 17-12 with a 4.76 ERA in 31 starts this season. He declined to comment before the decision was announced and wasn't available after.
The Red Sox will carry a third catcher, Kevin Cash, who played 12 games this season after being called up in mid-August. Francona said the move would give the Red Sox more flexibility to make substitutions, particularly with speedy rookie outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
"We want Ellsbury to be able to impact games, if needed, and that can mean running for a number of different people," Francona said.
Scioscia said before the workout that he wanted to make sure Matthews would be able to help the team in the series, which will have five games played over eight days.
"We have a series a little spread out in the next two or three days," Scioscia said. "Is he going to be functional enough to go out and play center field? If not, then he most likely will not be activated for the series."Matthews hit .252 with 18 home runs, 72 RBIs and 18 steals this season. Colon was 6-8 with a 6.34 ERA.
American League Division Series Boston vs. Los Angeles
Sunday, Oct. 7
Monday, Oct. 8
Wednesday, Oct. 10