By Tuesday, however, the pain in Wakefield's back was getting worse instead of better, and that is when he made a joint decision with the Red Sox that the right move was to be placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Clay Buchholz was summoned from Triple-A Pawtucket, and will take Wakefield's spot in the rotation and pitch on Wednesday against the Rangers.
"I was trying to make it get better," said Wakefield. "I've been getting treatment every day. It just doesn't seem to be going away right now. The smart thing to do team-wise is to DL me and make sure I'm healthy. If I go out there and try to pitch and can only go two or three innings, I'm [hurting] everybody else in this clubhouse, so I don't want to do that."
Of course, the Red Sox hardly needed much time to become reacquainted with Buchholz, who made a one-start cameo on Friday in Toronto and got the win before being sent to the Minors after that game.
"It was unexpected, but any day in the big leagues is better than being in the Minor Leagues, so I'm happy to be here again, and I'll go after them tomorrow and see what happens," Buchholz said. "I'll go out there and try to command the zone and try to throw strike one just like [my] last start."
Against the Blue Jays, Buchholz gave up four hits and one run over 5 2/3 innings in a 4-1 victory.
Under Major League rules, a player must be back in the Minors for at least 10 days before being called up again. The exception is when that player replaces someone who goes on the DL.
Though Wakefield last pitched for the Red Sox on July 8, procedure dictated that his DL stint had to be made retroactive to July 18, the day after Buchholz last pitched for Boston.
The earliest Wakefield can be activated is Aug. 2, when the Red Sox complete a three-game series in Baltimore.
"Oh, I'm very confident, and I think the training staff and everybody will do a great job getting me back on the field," said Wakefield. "I'll be 100 percent by then."
Wakefield went 11-3 in the first half to earn the first All-Star berth of his career. He didn't pitch in the Midsummer Classic.
The past two years, Wakefield's shoulder has become inflamed late in the season, forcing DL stints. Perhaps with this rest he is now forced to get, the shoulder will hold up better down the stretch.
"Hopefully, this will be a situation where he can take a week or two and strengthen his shoulder and take the time to do that when he's not pitching, and then hopefully get that lower back feeling better and come right back where he left off," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona.
Wakefield was taking a similarly glass half-full viewpoint.
"You know, the docs wanted to build in some rest, and I think that's what we tried to accomplish going into the break and after by having Buck pitch the first game and then realigning everybody and me being in the back and Josh [Beckett] being in the back," said Wakefield. "A couple extra or another week is not going to hurt anything. I think it will probably be better."
The Red Sox were also in the enviable position of having a pitcher the caliber of Buchholz ready to step in on a moment's notice. Buchholz is one of the best pitching prospects in baseball and threw a no-hitter for the Red Sox on Sept. 1, 2007.
"We told Clay to go back to Triple-A and do it right, and he did. He had a good airplane ride back and behaved himself, so we brought him right back," quipped Francona. "He pitched good the other day. As an organization, we're pretty fortunate that something like this can happen and we can have a guy like Clay ready to pitch."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.