Whenever the Red Sox add a veteran player to their major league roster, it’s not long before they get a call from home clubhouse manager Tom McLaughlin asking what number they want to wear.
Chris Sale wore No. 49 throughout his seven seasons in Chicago. But he did not request that number in Boston out of respect for Tim Wakefield.
“He deserves to hold on to that number,” Sale said. “He had way too impressive of a career to give that out again. No way I wanted it.”
Sale instead asked for 41, the number he wore at Florida Gulf Coast University and with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox during the 2009 Cape Cod League season.
“Glad to have it back,” he said.
Rookie infielder Marco Hernandez wore No. 41 during his stints with the team last season. He’ll be assigned a new number.
Wakefield retired after the 2011 season and the Sox have not issued No. 49 since. The same is true of Jason Varitek and No. 33. The Sox also have not given out No. 21 since Roger Clemens left the team in 1996.
For a newcomer like Sale to value that tradition meant a lot to Wakefield.
“It was awesome,” he said.