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Sale to change jersey number with Red Sox out of respect for Wakefield

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

Chris Sale won't be suiting up in his familiar No. 49 next season.

The new Boston Red Sox starter has worn the familiar number in each of his seven years in the big leagues with the Chicago White Sox, but he'll opt for No. 41 in Boston out of respect for knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

"He deserves to hold on to that number," Sale told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. "He had way too impressive of a career to give that out again. No way I wanted it."

Though Wakefield officially retired following the 2011 season, no other player in Boston has been given his No. 49 since. The right-hander pitched 17 of his 19 seasons in the big leagues as a member of the Red Sox and still ranks third on the club's all-time list in wins (186), though his 3,006 innings pitched are the most ever by a Red Sox pitcher.

Wakefield, who was also inducted into the team's Hall of Fame in 2016, appreciated the southpaw's commitment to keeping the number unused.

"It was awesome," Wakefield said, according to Abraham.

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