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Ben Cherington on D&C: Rays ‘just a good team, period’

10.03.13 at 10:24 am ET
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Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to discuss the Red Sox’ upcoming ALDS series against the Rays.

The best-of-five series is set to kick off on Friday at 3:07 p.m. at Fenway Park.

Asked if he was pulling for the Indians or Rays in Wednesday night’s wild card playoff, Cherington played it down the middle.

“Well, I don’t know. They’re both good teams,” Cherington said. “Obviously, they finished with very similar records. The Indians were so hot at the end with the way the pitching had come together.

“I don’t know. It’s hard to say, we know the Rays very well, we’ve played well against the Rays this year, we will be well prepared, we know they’re good, we know their pitching’s tough and obviously they’re going to play smart baseball and make good decisions, and we think we will, too. It should be a great series.”

While the Rays may have hit a few rough stretches during the regular season, Cherington believes that Tampa Bay will be a big test for Boston.

“[The Rays] are just a good team, period,” Cherington said. “Every team goes through lulls and highs, and you guys know that. They hit a little bit of a snag there in September a bit but pulled themselves out of it, and that’s not surprising because they’re pitching is good and they’ve been there and done that and they know how to do it and won the game that they needed to in Toronto and then won two obviously crucial games in the last few nights in Texas and then in Cleveland.

“This is not a mysterious opponent. … I just think in this particular series, it will come down to who executes the best during the games.”

Cherington was quick to dismiss the notion that home-field advantage for Boston has been mitigated in this series due to the Rays’ familiarity with the ballpark and their division rival.

“Well, I think we’ve seen in the past in postseason games where the crowd can give us an edge, and I think Dustin Pedroia said that yesterday and I agree with him,” Cherington said. “There are times when our crowd gets so loud that it can create an edge and I think most teams, no matter who they are or where you play, feel like there’s some advantage to playing at home in the postseason. … So hopefully we’ll take advantage of that home field and we played very well at home this year and I hope that that will continue.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To listen to the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

On whether he would construct a team for the postseason differently than he would for the regular season: “Well, you can’t get there without the other. I don’t know, I think obviously the difference with the postseason aside from the quality of the competition is the schedule, obviously, where there tends to be more off days and so often you need a little less pitching. … Other than that and the quality of the competition, I don’t know, I think generally the things that helped us win games in April and May and June and July and August and September are mostly the things that are going to help us win games now.”

On whether Boston will go with Xander Bogaerts over Stephen Drew in games against left-handed starters: “Well, that’s up to John [Farrell], obviously. I’ll let him make those decisions and talk about that, but I think that there’s always a balance, you know. There’s reasons why we won 97 games, and those reasons, you need to stick with those reasons. The things that helped us be so good during the regular season are the guys and the guys that did that are the guys that mostly are going to help us win in the postseason. There may be situations that come up where there’s a certain matchup where we can tilt the odds in our favor a little bit that John might consider doing something, but I think our strength this year was largely about the ability to use all 25 guys on the roster in different roles, and I’m sure that will consider in the postseason.”

On whether home/road splits were a factor in deciding the Red Sox’ postseason pitching rotation: “That did come into play. I think John Lackey has pitched so well at home. The way it lined up, even going back to the regular season sort of worked out easier that way. Clay [Buchholz] has been excellent no matter where he’s pitched this year. It had a little bit to do with it, just as much was the way the guys had been in line during the regular season.”

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