John Farrell: ‘There might be a time’ to pinch-hit Xander Bogaerts for Stephen Drew in the playoffs
|09.19.13 at 5:49 pm ET|
On Wednesday night, in an eventual 5-3, 12-inning loss to the Orioles, John Farrell faced a crossroads. With runners on first and second and one out in the 11th inning of a 3-3 tie, Stephen Drew was due at the plate with left-hander T.J. McFarland on the mound.
McFarland has been unexceptional against lefties, who have hit .277 with a .304 OBP and .454 slugging mark against him. Still, the rookie had held Drew hitless with five strikeouts in six plate appearances between the two.
Farrell stayed with Drew and left Xander Bogaerts — a right-handed hitter who excelled against lefties in the minors — on the bench. Drew was hitting .184 with a .239 OBP and .333 slugging mark against lefties. Farrell stayed with Drew, who promptly grounded into an inning-ending double play, adding to the shortstop’s woeful numbers against left-handed relievers: In 80 plate appearances against lefty relievers this year, Drew is 12-for-74 with a line of .162/.213/.324 with 28 strikeouts. His twin-killing positioned the Orioles to push across the game-winning pair of runs the following inning.
While Farrell made the decision to stick with Drew on Wednesday, the manager allowed that he might take a different stance at a different stage of the season. While Drew stayed in for the left-on-left matchup in a game with limited meaning (the Sox have essentially sewn up the AL East, with a high probability of the best record in the American League), in a situation where the game’s outcome has greater consequence, Farrell might choose a different course.
“Well, last night was what it was. Going forward, when there’s maybe more of a sense of urgency with postseason situations, I’m sure that’s something that [Drew] and I will talk to well in advance when that situation may come up again,” Farrell said of the possibility of using Bogaerts to pinch-hit for Drew against lefties. “I’m well aware of what Stephen is doing against left-handed pitching, but there might be a time for that.”
Farrell had nothing but praise for Bogaerts, who has handled his role and transition to the big leagues with startling maturity that defies his status as a 20-year-old.
“He’s in tune with all the work he’s doing, particularly with [infield coach] Brian Butterfield in the fundamental aspect on the field, more specifically at third base, and some of the footwork that’s going to be different at that position than at shortstop,” said Farrell. “He’s got great aptitude, he asks a lot of good questions and I think just the exposure of everything here in addition to how talented he is, he’s coming in contact with things for a first time, whether that’s the information that’s available, but the thing that just stands out is the presence on the field that he has, the calm demeanor that he plays the game with.”
That demeanor, in turn, may earn Bogaerts — hitting .286 with a .350 OBP and .429 slugging mark, with a .500/.571/.583 line against lefties — some intriguing opportunities going forward in critical situations.
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