“He™ll be the first to admit he wasn™t a challenger for the batting title, or a gold glover,” wrote Curt Schilling of suddenly released Boston backstop Doug Mirabelli, “but he had a specific job and he was pretty damn good at it.” That specific job, aside from being misquoted about bloody socks, was serving as the personal catcher to Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. From the Hartford Courant‘s Jeff Goldberg.

No one on the Red Sox was closer to Doug Mirabelli (above, right) than Wakefield. Since July 2002, Mirabelli caught 74 of Wakefield’s 82 starts, but their relationship went deeper than 60 feet, 6 inches.

Wakefield was on the field Thursday morning when he got the news. Mirabelli, 37, had been given his unconditional release, with Kevin Cash taking over as the backup catcher.

“Shocked,” Wakefield said. “Very shocked. I’m saddened by the whole situation. But it’s a business decision on their part. I feel like Cash can do a good job, but I’m going to really miss Doug. Not only his professionalism, the way he handled me and the comfort level that I had with him, but also his friendship.

“We’ve been together for eight years. We’ve accumulated a lot of wins and went through a lot of stuff together. It’s unfortunate it happened that way, but you have to get past that and understand I’m still an employee here. It’s their decision to make.

“He worked hard on watching me throw, picking out little tidbits that may improve me over the course of the game,” Wakefield said. “That’s hard to do when you’re trying to catch a knuckleball and watch me at the same time. But he was very good at it. I feel like he has the best hands I’ve ever seen of anybody. He’s one of the best receivers out there. I think he’d make a great manager one day. Maybe further down the road.”