Martinez accepts challenge of knuckler

Martinez accepts challenge of knuckler

BOSTON -- At 30 years of age, Victor Martinez already has quite the Major League resume.

A veteran of 843 career games, he's made three trips to the All-Star Game, finished in the Top 10 in Most Valuable Player voting, and, just two seasons ago, led his Indians to within one game of the World Series.

But on Wednesday night, Martinez will be a rookie again.

Having never caught a knuckleballer before joining the Red Sox, the veteran backstop will pair up with Tim Wakefield in the right-hander's return from the disabled list.

"I'm really looking forward to it," Martinez said. "I've had a chance to catch four or five of his [bullpen sessions]. But we'll see what happens [Wednesday]. I'm pretty excited.

"Obviously, that's not a normal pitch. It's a big difference. When it moves so much and you don't know where it's going to go, it can be tough. It's not typical to catch guys like him."

Of course, Wednesday won't mark the first time Martinez and Wakefield have played together. The two were teammates at last month's All-Star Game in St. Louis, where Martinez said the 43-year-old pitcher threw him a "couple" knuckleballs.

The catcher can expect to corral quite a few more Wakefield offerings this time around, a challenge Martinez has embraced with open arms.

"[Bullpen coach Gary Tuck] has given me a lot of tips," Martinez said. "Hopefully, I can take those into the game and they'll help me out."

Even with Tuck's pointers, which include squatting differently behind the plate, Martinez understands that gloving the knuckler is a results-oriented endeavor.

"You don't have to look pretty catching it," he said. "You just have to make sure that you catch it."

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Tim Wakefield (11-3, 4.31 ERA)
Wakefield makes his return after a month-long stint on the disabled list with lower back and left calf ailments. One of Boston's most dependable starters during the first half of the season, the 2009 All-Star's absence took a toll on a Red Sox rotation that has struggled to receive quality starting pitching from anyone not named Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. The veteran is 7-11 with a 5.11 ERA in 28 career appearances (19 starts) against the White Sox.

CWS: RHP Gavin Floyd (10-8, 3.98 ERA)
Floyd sparkled early, but ran out of gas during a difficult eighth inning that resulted in a loss to the Orioles last Friday. The right-hander cruised through seven frames, allowing just a solo home run to Brian Roberts, but his offense couldn't pick him up. The lack of support hurt Floyd in the eighth, when he surrendered another homer to Roberts -- a two-run shot. The 26-year-old lasted 7 1/3 innings, yielding four runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and two walks. Lifetime against the Red Sox, Floyd is 2-0 with a 5.74 ERA in three games (two starts).

Tidbits
Shortstop Jed Lowrie (ulnar neuritis) went 2-for-4 with a pair of home runs on Tuesday night in the second game of his rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket. ... The Red Sox have tallied 10 or more hits in seven of their past eight games, batting .313 (92-for-294) with 71 runs over that span. ... Closer Jonathan Papelbon has recorded 30 saves in each of his first four full Major League seasons, joining Billy Koch (1999-2002) as the only stoppers to accomplish the feat. ... Third baseman Mike Lowell has hit safely in each of his past nine games, going 12-for-36 (.333) during that stretch with six RBIs and seven runs scored.

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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
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•  Official game notes

On television
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On radio
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Up next
• Thursday: Red Sox (Junichi Tazawa, 2-2, 3.57) vs. White Sox (John Danks, 11-8, 3.85), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Friday: Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 14-5, 3.65) vs. Blue Jays (Scott Richmond, 6-7, 4.09), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Red Sox (Clay Buchholz, 2-3, 5.02) vs. Blue Jays (Ricky Romero, 11-5, 3.91), 7:10 p.m. ET

John Barone is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.