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Red Sox World Series roster notes: Jon Lester to start Game 1; Jonny Gomes, David Ross likely to see continued action

10.21.13 at 3:55 pm ET
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Jon Lester will start Game 1 of the World Series for the Red Sox against the Cardinals. (AP)

Jon Lester will start Game 1 of the World Series for the Red Sox against the Cardinals. (AP)

Red Sox manager John Farrell was asked to take stock of the first year of his transition from the Blue Jays to the Red Sox.

“Seems like it’s gone OK,” he smirked.

One could say that. The Red Sox are working out on Monday, with Game 1 of the World Series set to open at Fenway Park on Wednesday. Farrell’s largely successful maneuvers in the first two rounds of the postseason have played a considerable role in the fact that the team is still standing, whether his bullpen management or the decisions to insert Jonny Gomes and Xander Bogaerts into the lineup in the ALCS.

Farrell met with the media on Monday afternoon to discuss some of the decisions that he’s made, and some that await. A summary:

Jon Lester will start Game 1 of the World Series. The team has yet to set its rotation against the Cardinals beyond that, but the decision to start Lester in Game 1 of the World Series was relatively straightforward.

“He’s a frontline pitcher,” Farrell said of the left-hander, who is 4-4 with a 2.34 ERA in nine career playoff starts, the first of which came in the Sox’ last World Series game, the Game 4 clincher against the Rockies in 2007. “His preparation doesn’t vary from the physical side of things, so he’s able to maintain his stuff. I think last start against Detroit was the first time that he’s gone on his fifth day in about a month and a half, and it kind of showed up a little bit. But at the same time, this is a guy that’s a power pitcher. Power stuff wins in the postseason. He’s able to get guys out inside the strike zone and not rely on opposing hitters to chase or expand. Because of his physical abilities, that’s what allows him to perform so well in environments and in games late in the season.”

The fact that Lester will be starting in the World Series, the same stage where he had something of a breakthrough on the national stage back in 2007, offered Farrell an opportunity to take stock of the 29-year-old’s growth on the mound in the past six years.

“He knows himself better,” Farrell said. “He knows what his checkpoints are. He knows where his strengths lie. And I think more importantly, he can trust himself. What I mean by that is that in his first couple of years in his big league career, he was so locked in on trying to figure out what the opposition was doing and going in to attack that. In other words, what was their game plan against him — which, you didn’t know. You had no way of knowing until you set the approach that you were going to execute against them first. So he’s trusting in his abilities and establishing himself on the mound initially and then responding to how they adjust to him. He’s very much a concrete thinker and I think he’s become much more at ease with himself to know, not everything is in my control, and yet I trust my abilities to perform well.”

– Farrell made it sound almost certain that he’ll stick with the lineup that broke through against the Tigers in the final two games of the ALCS, meaning Jonny Gomes over Daniel Nava in left and Xander Bogaerts over Will Middlebrooks at third. How difficult is it to sit Nava, after a year in which he finished fifth in the AL in OBP (.385)?

“Great question. Good player, very good hitter,” said Farrell. “He’s going to be involved in this. We haven’t made out Wednesday’s lineup yet, but can’t go away from maybe a little bit of momentum that a certain lineup has provided for us. Daniel Nava is certainly not forgotten. Nor is any guy. We talked about with Xander taking over for Will, I’ll let you know, very similar conversation with both guys, both with Daniel and Will, is that it will take contributions from every guy on this team to get where we want to go. That may be in a little different role than what you’ve been accustomed to in the regular season, but by no means does it reflect on how they’re looked upon or their value to us on a bigger picture.”

– Asked whether he would continue to pair Lester with catcher David Ross, Farrell said that he had yet to discuss the matter with Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Ross worked with Lester in both of his ALCS starts against the Tigers, with Lester permitting three runs in 11 2/3 innings (2.31 ERA).

– Farrell said the Sox have yet to set their rotation after Game 1. That likely will be announced on Tuesday.

– He also said that the team is still determining whether there will be any roster tweaks from the ALCS to the World Series. The Sox did not make any changes to their 25-man roster between the ALDS against the Rays and the ALCS against the Tigers. While the prospect of three games in a National League park alter the dynamic of roster needs, Farrell acknowledged that the fact that any player who might be added to the roster hadn’t seen game action in three weeks would be a relevant consideration.

– With the Sox heading to St. Louis and playing without the designated hitter for the middle three games of the series, Farrell said that David Ortiz would see some time (over Mike Napoli) at first base, but that the precise number of games Ortiz will start has yet to be determined.

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