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Notes from John Farrell’s media session: April 16 defined Red Sox as a ‘special group’

10.01.13 at 3:32 pm ET
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The Red Sox are conducting a workout on Tuesday, the first of three straight days in which the team is taking to the field at Fenway Park in order to stay sharp for the start of the American League Division Series on Friday following four off days. The team is still finalizing its roster decisions, and it’s also holding off on announcing its starting rotation, but overall, manager John Farrell suggested that he is in charge of an extremely well-rounded team that is a credit to the work of GM Ben Cherington in taking a team that went from 69-93 a year ago to a 97-65 record that was tied for the best in the majors this year.

“He’s done an outstanding job. I’m certainly not one to compliment him on it because he lives it, as do we. But his vision clearly started last August with the trade with the Dodgers. Where we stand today was initiated 14 months ago,” Farrell said, alluding to the blockbuster deal with the Dodgers that sent out Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to liberate tremendous resources. “It’s tremendous foresight on his part, but to select the people, in addition to the talent that he brought in, everyone has fit well. It didn’t stop after the free-agent signing period this winter. Quintin Berry is another example of maybe a less publicized acquisition that can maybe fill a pivotal role or pivotal contribution on our end. It’s a never-ending pursuit on his part, whether it’s looking at internal options, his ability to outline things to us in uniform from a staff standpoint, he includes us in that whole process and it’s worked very well. But he’s done a great job of revamping who sits in our clubhouse today.”

Farrell praised the work done by Cherington in finding players of character to come to Boston, something that became most evident when the team took the field on April 16, the day after the bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

“The one moment that stands out in my mind is standing on the ‘€¦ during the moment of silence in Cleveland following the bombing here. And it wasn’€™t so much about on field performance. We had gotten off to a good start the first two, three weeks of the season,” said Farrell. “We saw some things come out of the individuals. Spoke to their understanding that they were in a special place and showed some [character] at a very difficult and unique time. Whether that was the galvanizing moment for this team, I can’€™t say that. But it was a moment in time where guys showed a different side of them that this was a special group. What the performance was going to be, the total number of wins achieved, we didn’€™t know. But there was a [character] that showed through in that moment that was special.’€

While Farrell did not make any formal announcements about the roster or rotation, he did confirm that Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavy would throw multiple innings in Wednesday’s intrasquad scrimmage, a signal that the team plans to have Jon Lester and John Lackey start the first two games of the ALDS.

Other notes from Farrell:

  • In addition to Buchholz and Peavy, the Sox will want to get action for a number of relievers. It will be up to the team’s hitters whether they want to face live pitching, and Farrell said that some may prefer not to do so. The game will have an umpire, and players will run the bases and play the field as opposed to simply stepping in the box as might occur in a simulated game for a rehabbing pitcher.
  • Farrell suggested that, even though the demands of a five-game series with two off days are distinct from those of the 162-game regular season, he does not want to drastically alter his roster from the one he used for the lion’s share of the season. “There will be some of that involved but the one thing I want to be clear at is we’€™ve set a pretty clear approach to how we’€™ve used all of our position players throughout the course of the regular season,” said Farrell. “To make a drastic shift from that, I don’€™t know that it would be putting guys in the best position to succeed so this is a team that, we’€™ve had a couple of situations where we’€™ve pinch hit before or we’€™ll use a pinch runner. We’€™ve demonstrated that. so to say that we’€™ll look to do something completely different because we’€™ve got a five-game series with two off-days in it, I think that would be running from what our strengths have been established all year.”
  • Farrell said that the team is unlikely to factor in the possibility of having Mike Napoli catch into its roster decisions: “I don’€™t think at this point of the season we would consider him behind the plate,” said Farrell. “That would be a major shift from anything that we’€™ve communicated to him throughout the course of the year or anything that we’€™ve chose to do inside of a given game, whether we’€™ve put [Jarrod Saltalamacchia] back in behind the plate in a game that David Ross will start, or vice versa. That’€™s one thing that will be considered when we look at the 25-man roster as a whole. I can’€™t say that’€™s an overriding factor.”
  • On the structure of the bullpen bridge from the team’s starters to closer Koji Uehara: “We have the ability to match up, to bridge from whoever the starter is that given night to Koji closing things out, we’ve got options. Guys have been very dependable, they’ve been durable, whether that’s been [Craig Breslow], whether that’s been Junichi [Tazawa], who’s done a very good job for us. At times, there’s been some challenging moments for him. The emergence of Brandon Workman, was encouraging his last outing in Baltimore, coming off the outing over in Denver. So, we feel like we’ve got ample options to go to. Franklin Morales‘ last six weeks of the season have been very encouraging and then we’ve put some veteran presence back there with Ryan Dempster in that role as well to bridge to Koji. Koji’s abilities have finally been highlighted because of the role he’s in. He’s been a very good pitcher his entire pro career, both in Japan and here. To see the efficiency with which he pitches, he’s having an outstanding year for us. We’ll need it to go forward.”
  • Farrell said that his contact with former Red Sox manager Terry Francona has been “minimal,” limited to “a congratulatory text” since the Indians clinched a wild card berth. At the same time, he acknowledged that the cross-pollination of the Indians and Red Sox organizations would lend itself to a number of interesting storylines if the two teams face each other in the ALDS. “There’s a lot of quality and talented people over there. To see it come together with a chance to advance after tomorrow night, I think because you have past experiences with many people, you want the best for them,” said Farrell. “There would be an incredible amount of side stories if we do meet up with them in the Division Series. In some ways, it’s reminiscent of the ALCS in ’07. There’s so much crossover that still exists between people that have worked, either starting in Cleveland and coming here, and now it’s in some ways reversed with Tito going back there and leading their team. Hopefully we get a chance to meet up.
  • Four players who are not candidates to participate in the postseason have been sent home: Allen Webster, Brayan Villarreal, Steven Wright and Brock Holt.
  • The intrasquad scrimmage on Wednesday and the working, which starts at 2 p.m. and is scheduled to run until approximately 5 or 6 p.m., will be open to the public for no charge. “I think it’s more of a gesture to those who have stood by us throughout the course of time, and give them an opportunity for our season-ticket holders to be presented something unique and maybe in some small way, an indirect way, a thank you,” said Farrell.
  • Regarding the 5:37 p.m. start time of Saturday’s game, Farrell noted that the teams would have to contend with shadows in the early innings but that the sun would set relatively early in the game.
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