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Red Sox notes: John Farrell explains lineup decisions, Grady Sizemore’s bump in the road

04.26.14 at 1:14 pm ET
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TORONTO — It was just time for a day off.

That’s the message Red Sox manager John Farrell relayed when talking before his team’s game with the Blue Jays Saturday about Mike Napoli and Xander Bogaerts. Napoli has been banged up recently with a dislocated finger and bruised knee cap, while Bogaerts’ ailments include flu-like symptoms, along with soreness in his calves from being hit with multiple pitches.

Another factor was how Napoli matched up with Toronto starter Brandon Morrow, who the first baseman is just 2-for-16 against.

– Farrell also spoke to Grady Sizemore‘s struggles of late, suggesting the downturn was an understandable progression considering the two years the outfielder has been out of action. In his last eight games prior to Saturday, Sizemore is 2-for-31 (.065).

“Again, we’re looking at a two-year gap that we can’t avoid. He’s been pitched to a little bit,” Farrell said. “He’s gotten some pitches on the plate where he’s fouled them off, and he’s expanded the strike zone below a little bit at times. Prior to the last 12 or 14 at-bats, this was a guy that we were looking at where, the offensive side is really going to flourish here. Nothing has changed that. He’s going through a little bit of a spell here. A couple days off to regroup with Vic’s return. There’s still a good hitter there. We’ve just got to do some things to gain some confidence and some rhythm at the plate.

“He was defying what you would naturally think with a two-year gap, regardless of injury or not. If he went on a mission somewhere for two years with that long of a gap, you’d think that you’d question, OK, how many games can you expect? What’s the consistency of performance? There’s really no template for what Grady’s doing here. But yet, physically he’s answered all of our questions to date. Just got to keep him in the mix.”

– Farrell was very encouraged by the way Will Middlebrooks picked right up upon his return from the disabled list, knocking out a pair of hits Friday night.

“Very good. My gosh, you have to respect his power down in the bottom third and when he’€™s not expanding the strike zone, which is the case last night. He’€™s a dangerous hitter,” the manager said. “To have that kind of power in the bottom third is certainly a luxury. And as we talk more than anything, just trying to get some continuity we’€™re all familiar with, put up one at-bat after the next in a relentless way,  last night was a sample of that.”

– Another encouraging sign for the Red Sox was Jackie Bradley Jr.’s night in the series opener. The outfielder came away with two doubles and a triple.

“He’€™s going through a period of time where he’€™s getting pitched to and he’€™s figuring out how he’€™s going to counter out the adjustments that opposing pitchers have made to him,” Farrell said of Bradley Jr. “The conversations and the work he’€™s doing with Colby [Greg Colbrunn] and Vic [Victor Rodriguez], in addition to the conversations with Pedey and some veteran guys, it’€™s good to see him make some of the subtle adjustments on the recommendations that are being made, and more than anything to get some positive results from it. That reinforces the message that others are getting. The ability is there, it’€™s a matter of refining an approach at the major league level, which he’€™s being challenged which he’€™s never been at the minor league level.”

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