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May 23, 2011

Sox lucky to have eccentric Aceves

BOSTON — Red Sox right-handed pitcher Alfredo Aceves recently was approached by the Red Sox and asked whether he would prefer starting or relieving.

"The other day they asked what I prefer," Aceves said over the weekend. "I'm a pitcher. I'm a pitcher and it don't matter if I have to close, or if I have to relieve or if I have to start."

But when asked how he enjoyed making a start Saturday (for the injured Daisuke Matsuzaka), the eccentric Aceves was quick to respond.

"I like starting," he said.

The 28-year-old Aceves, who the Red Sox are paying $650,000 this year, may turn out to be a very essential member of this team, especially if Matsuzaka is out for an extended length of time. And there is a chance Matsuzaka might not return at all this season.

As of right now, Tim Wakefield, Felix Doubront and Aceves are the top three candidates to fill Matsuzaka's spot.

Wakefield, the 44-year-old knuckleballer, pitched extremely well at Fenway Sunday, making a strong case that he deserves the job. Wakefield went 6 2/3 innings, giving up just one earned run on four hits and no walks while striking out three batters as the Red Sox won 5-1 over the Chicago Cubs.

But Wakefield has been inconsistent as a starter in recent years, including posting a 5.71 ERA in 19 starts in 2010. Now at the end of his career, he is better off as a long-reliever/spot starter and that likely is the position the Sox feel most comfortable using him in.

As for Doubront, he certainly has the best stuff of any of the three pitchers with a 92-plus mile per hour fastball and an effective curveball and changeup. He likely will be an above-average major league starter but, for right now, there are some concerns over whether he can remain healthy.

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