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John Farrell: David Ortiz still on track to return mid-April

04.10.13 at 3:32 pm ET
By

John Farrell

Making his weekly appearance with “Salk & Holley” Wednesday afternoon, Red Sox manager John Farrell said that Wednesday will mark the final day in extended spring training for designated hitter David Ortiz, and that depending on how his rehab assignment proceeds while at Pawtucket, he could be back in Boston on a permanent basis somewhere between the 15th and 19th of this month.

“[Wednesday] is his last day in extended spring training, so he’ll begin that rehab assignment [Thursday] with Pawtucket,” Farrell said Wednesday. “That’s the plan as of right now, and there’s no reason to think we would deviate from that. Then, it’s a matter of how many at-bats does David feel he’s the most comfortable with — 20 or 30? I think we’re still in that time range we mentioned, somewhere in mid-April. Whether that’s the 15th to the 19th, somewhere in there. I think that’s a realistic target.

“But we’re going to go off of David. The most important thing is that he feels good. I think he’s kind of gotten over the hump when it comes to the intensity when it comes to running the bases, the way he’s swinging the bat. He’s in a pretty good place right now, all things considered.”

Here are some more highlights from the Q&A:

on roster situations — Stephen Drew is back?

“He is. He’s starting at shortstop tonight. A corresponding move — we did option Jose Iglesias back to Pawtucket. I will say that meeting with Jose yesterday to let him know the move that taking place, he handled it like a pro. I think in his heart of hearts, he believes he’s a major league player, which … as the first week unfolded, he did a tremendous job for us defensively. He swung the bat well coming off a sold spring training. So he goes back to Pawtucket I think with a boost in confidence, for sure. We know tat we have — in the event of a need, we have a guy we can call upon to play shortstop every day for us. John Lackey has also been placed on the disabled list. When we put a ball in his hand yesterday and started to play catch, he felt some tightness still in the biceps. Not knowing how much time he’ll be needed, we did put him on the DL and recalled Alex Wilson to take his spot in the bullpen. And Alfredo Aceves will start in place of John Lackey tomorrow night against Baltimore.”

on what he expects to see from Iglesias in Triple A:

“The consistency to the approach. We’re not going to gear everything toward batting average. So much of that is out of his control. If he can recognize that there might be some disappointment with being sent back, but his attitude was great yesterday. He had a heck of a first week and still got optioned out. That doesn’t typically sit too well with a guy. Based on the conversation, he’s upbeat. Like I said, this week gave him a boost of confidence. To ensure he goes about his daily work at Pawtucket as he was doing here, that’s the thing he can control each and every day — his work routine.”

Nothing he could have done to stay here?

“I think we’d all agree with that. Stephen Drew was signed in the offseason to come in here and be our starting shortstop. The errant fastball that he took on the forehead in spring training, that shouldn’t cause a guy to lose his job. The one thing we all see is that Jose is an every day player. He wasn’t going to sit on the bench as a 23-year-old and not get regular at-bats. Pedro Ciriaco is our utility guy, so in that scenario, he goes back and gets every day at-bats in Pawtucket.”

You decide to go back to Jackie Bradley today after the day off yesterday. What was the thinking there?

“Just as effective as Chen was against left-handed hitting, and the fact that up in Toronto the last couple of days, you could see the expression on Jackie’s face that some things were starting to creep in there a little bit. And recognizing that it was opening day and those types of things, we still have to construct what we feel is the best lineup on a given day to win that ballgame, and getting another righthanded bat in the lineup — in this case, Nava — was the overriding thought. And you know what? It worked out for us. Jackie is a very good young player, and he does need to get everyday at-bats, regular at-bats when he’s here. We’ll see him in the next couple of nights in this series, for sure.”

On different responsibilities as a manager as opposed to working as a pitching coach:

“Clearly, there’s a different set of responsibilities. We all recognize that. Now I think what’s the most important is to find the best qualified people when we out the staff together, and then give them the freedom to do their job. My is similar to Juan’s, and it comes on the pitching side of things. Our conversations will happen more naturally. But we’ve got complete confidence in him as our pitching coach. He’s done a great job of building that rapport and those relationships with those guys before spring training started and throughout camp. But yeah, there’s involvement in all areas. But I think the most important thing is not to be standing over guys shoulders so they feel like they can’t breathe or they can’t move. But again, it goes back to finding the most qualified people and letting them do their job. But certainly being involved as we  communicate what we’re trying to get done. Whether it’s on the pitching side, offensive side, whatever it might be. That goes back to just being prepared. I really don’t know any other way to go about it other than do your homework. I think players respect the fact that you come in prepared and give them some insight and some feedback on what might transpire on a given night. With that being said, that’s the approach we use here.”

Your first two pitchers have been lights out. What have you seen from them?

“Just getting back to the way they’ve thrown the ball for a lot of years. They’ve had success here in Boston for multiple years, consecutive. They’re both healthy. And I think as spring training unfolded and they were executing pretty consistently, they gained confidence, and it’s carried over into the start of the season. I don’t think you can deny the stuff they have. They have very good stuff. Both Lester and Buchholz have above average stuff across the board. They’ve been able to command the baseball and make adjustments from pitch to pitch, and that’s the essence of pitching. They’ve been able to not go into a situation — whether it’s been three, four or five pitches — before they can make an adjustment. They’ve been able to do it on the fly and they’ve done a very good job, at least two times through the rotation.”

On chemistry of the team — did you have a blueprint on how you wanted to affect chemistry in the clubhouse?

“I can’t say that it was geared toward this overall vision, but at the same time, we wanted to put the focus back out on the field. Not some of the side issues that may have evolved. The one thing that I made clear in the calls to the individual players after being named to the position was that if there was a desire on the players part to vent about last year, it was like, ‘OK, let’s do it this one time, get it out of the way, and from this point forward, all we can do is focus on the things we can control and how we get better.’ I can’t say there was some grand plan. But it was just, ‘Hey, what’s happened is what’s happened. We can’t go back — that’s a waste of time and energy. Instead, let’s focus on rewriting the story in 2013.’”

How does chemistry translate to wins?

“I think it’s probably the other way around. Wins translate to chemistry. I will say this: we’ve got players who are not only talented, but they have a track record of being quality teammates. They care about one another as much as themselves. And it’s not just … it’s the team first. We felt like coming off what has happened over the last year-plus, that that was a combination of talented players who had that attitude about one another, that was a priority in acquiring those type of guys.”

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