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Red Sox pregame notes: John Farrell takes stock of runners in scoring position struggles

05.02.14 at 6:54 pm ET
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The numbers don’€™t lie when it comes to the Red Sox‘€™ lack of production with men on base. As a team, they’€™re hitting just .239 with a .327 OBP and .354 slugging mark with runners on, and those numbers dip to .223/.314/.338 when the runners are in scoring position. That mark ranks 12th in the AL in average with RISP. The Sox have stranded an average of 7.83 men on base per game, second to only the A’€™s, who lead the majors with an average of 8.11 runners left on base.

Part of the problem may stem from bad luck. When the Sox have put balls in play, they haven’t found holes, as evidenced by a .262 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) with runners in scoring position, a number that was sky-high at this point in 2013 at .368. But while part of that low BABIP could be contributed to bad luck, manager John Farrell is not counting on a shift in luck to get the offense going.

“€œFirst of all, I don’€™t believe that things just even out. I’€™m not one that buys into that notion,” Farrell said. “€œWe still have to maintain our approach. If there are things that we can do to remain in the moment with a guy in the box, we continually talk through those situations.”€

The Red Sox‘ frustration with runners on reached new levels on Thursday. While they were able to capitalize on walks and string together three RBI singles in a five-run fifth inning in the nightcap of the double header, over the two games the Sox left a total of 21 runners on base and collectively went 4-for-20 with runners in scoring position.

Despite the lack of results, Farrell says that the Red Sox don’€™t plan on altering their approach just yet. And, while the Sox’ struggles in that area dominated Thursday’s double header, Farrell was also mindful of the bigger recent picture, chiefly that the Sox had scored at least seven runs in three of their four games preceding the double header while tallying at least five runs in five of six contests prior to Thursday, suggesting that the team’s early-season struggles in such situations may not be as apparent going forward.

“œI would turn it around to a pitcher that thinks he’€™s got to execute a pitch in a certain moment,” Farrell said. “€œWhen that thought begins to creep into someone’€™s mind, that may cause him to overthrow the baseball, muscle up, or you don’€™t get the same relaxation and the action to the given pitch. The same calmness has got to take place when a guy’€™s in the box. These guys are grinding away and there’€™s been times when we’€™ve bunched some RBI singles together. I think the most important thing is we’€™re doing a very good job of creating the opportunities initially.

“€œI don’€™t want to go away from what the strength of this team is. As we’€™ve gotten back to full health we were more willing to do that when we had a bottom third where we needed to manufacture runs a little but more. We still possess some extra base threats in the bottom third, and we don’€™t want to take that strength away from guys. When we’€™re at home and looking to play for a tie, we’€™ll execute as we did last night. Two days ago we’€™re talking about how much improved the offensive approach has been and now all of a sudden we’€™re talking about are we gonna overhaul our approach? No, we’€™re not.”€

OTHER RED SOX NOTES

— At the start of play on Friday, Jake Peavy was tied for the  league lead in walks allowed. The right-hander is walking an average of five batters per nine innings, well above his career average of 2.7. Farrell believes that the dramatic uptick in walks is more circumstantial than related to mechanics.

“œWithout looking at his career track record in front of me, it’€™s higher than what he’€™s been accustomed to,” Farrell said. “He’€™s been in some low-run games where he had some situations to manage a lineup and he might not be challenging a guy in a certain count and falls behind and moves onto the next hitter, which can result in walks.”

– Reliever Burke Badenhop got plenty of work in yesterday, pitching in both ends of the doubleheader. He pitched a perfect inning in game one and a scoreless third of an inning in the nightcap. Badenhop has now strung together five straight scoreless outings (8 1/3 innings).

“As he’€™s gotten more innings under his belt, his arm strength has increased since spring training,” Farrell said of the righty’€™s recent success.

Badenhop owns a 3.57 ERA through 17 2/3 innings this season.

Daniel Nava is looking more like his 2013 self with Triple-A Pawtucket, batting .333/.400/.524 through six games.

“He’€™s back to an approach that we saw here last year,” Farrell said. “DefenSively he’€™s played all three outfield positions including DH. But the disappointment in going down has been short-lived or it hasn’€™t filtered into his work in between the lines and he’€™s swinging the bat well.”

Despite Nava’€™s success with Pawtucket, Farrell says that at this point in time, it would take an injury to an outfielder for Nava to earn a promotion back to the majors.

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