BOSTON (AP) - No player has been with Boston longer than Tim Wakefield. Only one has spent more time in the Colorado organization than Aaron Cook.
Cook's not yet done this season. Wakefield is finished.
Wakefield was left off the Red Sox roster for the World Series because of recurring shoulder trouble.
``This stinks for me,'' the 41-year-old knuckleballer said Tuesday, a day before Game 1. ``I want to be out there competing. This is the ultimate stage.''
Wakefield was sidelined for the AL division series and pitched poorly in the championship series.
Right-hander Kyle Snyder was added to the roster in Wakefield's place. The long reliever went 2-3 with a 3.81 ERA in 46 games, all out of the bullpen, and was not on the roster for the first two postseason rounds.
Cook, who last pitched in the majors on Aug. 10, will start Game 4. He'll probably face Jon Lester, likely to get the chance only because Wakefield is ailing.
With the 28-year-old Cook on the roster, righty Taylor Buchholz, who did not appear in any of the first seven postseason games, was left off. Franklin Morales, who had a 5.14 ERA in two playoff starts, goes to the Rockies bullpen.
``Even if they would have decided to leave me off, I would have been OK with the decision because of the way the team's been playing,'' Cook said. ``I mean, you can't take away from what's been going on.''
Colorado won 21 of its last 22 games to end a season in which Cook started on opening day. He didn't get a decision in that 8-6 loss to Arizona.
Only first baseman Todd Helton has spent more time in the Rockies organization than Cook's 12 seasons. The pitcher came back from life-threatening blood clots three years ago. But a strained side muscle sidetracked him this year and he aggravated it in a rehab start Sept. 1.
``I just kept getting myself prepared to be in this situation,'' Cook said. ``But sitting on pins and needles? That would just be something else to worry about that I had no control over.''
Wakefield has plenty to worry about.
Now in his 13th season with the Red Sox, the team has an option to retain him next year for $4 million. Each year the option is renewed, another one-year, $4 million option is added.
Suddenly, though, there's some question about how long the soft-tossing veteran will go on.
``Based on the information I'm getting from the doctors, I'm seriously at risk of injuring myself for the rest of my life,'' said Wakefield, who described the injury as inflammation in the back of his right shoulder. ``So that had a lot of weight in the decision.''
Wakefield missed one start late in the season and finished at 17-12 with a 4.76 ERA.
``The recovery time between each start has been getting more and more difficult,'' Francona said. ``Sometimes arriving at the right thing to do is not the fun thing to do.''
Josh Beckett will start Wednesday night's opener for the Red Sox, with Curt Schilling and Daisuke Matsuzaka pitching the next two games.
``Lester threw today extensively,'' Francona said. ``He's not being groomed for the bullpen tomorrow.''
In 1999, Wakefield was left off the AL championship series roster after he pitched poorly in the division series. This year, the decision was difficult - considering the high regard the organization has for him.
Ideally, he said, the Red Sox wanted him to pitch in Games 2 and 6. He said he probably could have pitched Thursday night but didn't know how well he could do.
``I don't think it's fair to the 24 guys that are in the clubhouse and I don't think it's fair to the organization,'' he said. ``And I don't think it's fair to me, lastly, that I go out and injure myself and I'm not available for next year or the year after that.''
Francona made an easier personnel decision when he tapped lefty Jacoby Ellsbury to start in center field instead of switch-hitter Coco Crisp against lefty Jeff Francis. Ellsbury started Games 6 and 7 of the ALCS against Cleveland because Crisp was in a slump.
Then Crisp hurt his knee crashing into the center-field wall to catch the last out of the last game.
``It made a very difficult decision maybe not quite as difficult,'' Francona said.
Wakefield wasn't on the roster for the first-round sweep of the Los Angeles Angels. In his only outing since Sept. 29, he allowed five runs in 4 2-3 innings in Game 4 of the ALCS when Cleveland took a 3-1 lead.
``The start itself really didn't bother me,'' he said. ``It was the days between that really bothered me to where I couldn't play catch the day after I started, or my side (session) was cut short.''
Tests showed no structural damage.
``The problem that the doctors are uneasy about is my recovery time,'' Wakefield said. ``If I keep throwing and throwing and throwing with swelling, it may cause impingement. It may tear something.''
For Cook, the prognosis is much better.
``The opportunity to tell him, 'You're going to get the ball in Game 4' was very special,'' Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.
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