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Notes: Wakefield seeking durability

Notes: Wakefield seeking durability

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The knuckleballs came fluttering out of Tim Wakefield's right hand in his Grapefruit League debut on Sunday afternoon, unofficially kicking off his 14th season in a Red Sox uniform.

At the age of 41, and coming off a right shoulder injury that knocked him out of the World Series before it started, Wakefield's primary goal for 2008 is durability.

"Obviously, I keep saying 200 innings," Wakefield said. "If I can give the club 200 innings and have as many decisions as I did last year, I should be right back where I was last year. I think that's my biggest asset to this team, is to give them innings."

The other asset, of course, is the knuckleball. Wakefield had a good one on Sunday, limiting the Twins to one hit and retiring six of the seven batters he faced.

"I felt good today," said Wakefield. "I was really focused on just trying to make sure my mechanics were repeatable and consistent. I felt like I had pretty decent stuff today. [I] threw some fastballs for strikes when I needed to, [and the] knuckleball felt pretty good today."

And in case you wondered, even a seasoned pro like Wakefield gets some butterflies for an exhibition debut.

"Warming up, you're nervous, anxious to get started, anxious to get out there at game speed, that's the biggest thing," said Wakefield. "You try to imitate that in the offseason or in your sides or in your BP, but there's nothing like it when the cage and the 'L' screen are taken away and there's an umpire out there and hitters. It's nice to get that first one out of the way and build on that."

Dice-K airs it out: Under the watchful eye of pitching coach John Farrell, Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka threw a lengthy bullpen session before Sunday's game. One Japanese media member counted 112 pitches.

"Typically we go from long toss right into his bullpen," said Farrell. "The first 30 pitches were really just getting loose again because of the fundamental defense work we had. But all told, separating those out, he was right around 75, 80 [pitches]."

For Matsuzaka, it was a day of working out some kinks.

"He was working on his lower half as far as delivery and alignment," said Farrell. "The shape of all of his pitches were obviously very good. He threw some good curveballs today. It was a good work day."

Farrell said that communicating with Matsuzaka about workload and routine is much easier entering Year 2.

"I think any time you spend a full year with someone, you're going to know what their desires are, their work ethic, what their routines become," Farrell said. "I know on days he feels good, those are days where his work volume might be a little bit higher. That was the case today."

Hansen struggles: Craig Hansen, vying to win a spot out of the bullpen, had a bad day at the office on Sunday. The right-hander allowed two hits and four runs over an inning, walking three and striking out none.

"With Hans, he started out throwing the ball real well and once it got a little out of joint, he lost his release point, or had a couple of different ones and things got away," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "Again, I think he has too good a stuff for that to happen. So we'll keep at it. The good news is, the ball is coming out of his hand great. The flip side of that is that he shouldn't give up runs -- I don't care where he is -- like that."

Hansen didn't think it was anything major.

"Basically it was a feel thing," Hansen said. "[I] didn't have the right feel on the ball. [I] just lost control to the first hitter, and that just continued throughout the inning."

Colon and Beckett: While the Red Sox travel to Jupiter to play the Marlins for their first long bus ride of Spring Training, ace Josh Beckett will pitch a "B" game at City of Palms Park in the late morning.

In addition, Bartolo Colon -- who was signed by the Sox last week -- will throw his first side session.

Jason Varitek and Sean Casey will both get some at-bats in the "B" game, which is against the Twins.

Pedroia dances way to infamy: Already the target of countless barbs from his teammates and manager, Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia gave everyone a little more fodder at third baseman Mike Lowell's charity event on Saturday night.

During part of the dance competition, Pedroia was shirtless.

"Pedroia is a moron, [and] you can write that," quipped Francona. "He was dancing, he looked like a puppet on a string. It's funny, because he's such a little gamer. But he's looking over knowing that we're just crushing him. He's drinking Red Bull, he's exhausted, he's trying to do these things with this girl that he's not strong enough to do. It was hilarious."

Up next: Right-hander Kyle Snyder gets the call as the Red Sox travel across the state to Jupiter to take on the Florida Marlins at 1 p.m. ET on Monday. Kevin Youkilis, Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury are among the players who will make the trip.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["spring_training" ] }
{"content":["spring_training" ] }