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John Farrell knows do-or-die time is upon his Red Sox: ‘Each [game] has increasing signficance’

07.17.14 at 9:32 pm ET
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John Farrell can read the standings just like everyone else. He knows his team stands 43-52 heading into the final 67 games, 9 1/2 games behind first-place Baltimore in the AL East. He can also read a schedule. He knows full well that after this three-game series this weekend with Kansas City, the Red Sox have 13 straight games against three of the four teams ahead of them in the division.

It’s do-or-die time.

“Given where we are right now, yes,” Farrell said, confirming the characterization of this as the make-or-break part of the season. “That’s not to add pressure. That’s to say there’s some additional significance when you play the teams ahead of you. After we get through Kansas City, we’ve got the next 13 [games] or four consecutive series of teams ahead of us. Sixty-seven games remaining, each one has increasing significance as we go.”

After three with the Royals, the Red Sox have four in Toronto, followed by three on the road against the Rays. They come home for three against the Jays and three against the Yankees, overlapping the July 31 trade deadline. Did Farrell feel like he got a break to mentally prepare for the upcoming grind?

“Yeah for about a day-and-a-half, and now I’m ready to get going for [Friday],” Farrell said of his shortened All-Star break due to managing the AL All-Stars to a 5-3 win in Minneapolis.

“I think the four days gives guys a chance to mentally and physically take a break and get away from the game a little bit. [Xander Bogaerts] has been going at it pretty hard, not only in terms of what he’s been working on pregame but with every focus to be brought into the game, and he’s played regularly as well. We’ve given him a couple of days here and there, but I think the break mentally and physically was needed for him, and quite frankly, for a number of guys.”

Here were some other tidbits from Farrell‘s meeting with reporters on Thursday at Fenway Park:

  • On the rehab stint of Shane Victorino at Triple-A Pawtucket:“Ideally, we see him playing back-to-back games before we would activate him. How he comes through [Thursday] has a lot of bearing on that and ideally, he’s back in the lineup [for Pawtucket on Friday]. Preferably nine but back-to-back appearances, that’s where we’ll start.”
  • On Will Middlebrooks’ rehab in Pawtucket:“Because the days over the All-Star break count toward the 20 days, he’ll back on rehab [Friday] with Pawtucket. Ideally, we get Vic back at the same time. Our intention when Will resumes his rehab [Friday] would be for him to remain at third base. If there’s a point in time where we expose him to left field, that’ll probably take some more discussion internally. We had the intent to that prior. That was before [Mookie Betts] came up and Vic was getting close [to returning]. Third base will be the focus at this point.

    “Will’s been playing more regularly. It’s been a matter of getting more consistent timing with Will. With Vic, it’s been a matter of getting him on the field for any kind of consistency. There are two different scenarios with those two guys.”

  • On the role of rookie catcher Christian Vazquez going forward and whether he might take over lead catching duties. Farrell is throwing his support behind the value of David Ross and his leadership for now:“I’m not saying [Vazquez passing Ross] couldn’t happen. Christian’s done an excellent job in the games he’s caught. David Ross has a valued role on this team and makes a large impact. We’ll still continue to have him catch Jon [Lester] and likely Jake [Peavy], if it lines up. But where David Ross can serve as mentor to Christian even further is a scenario that unfolds where the first game of a series is handled by David. He can have conversations with Christian. That’s another arrangement we’ve discussed internally.”
  • On the improvement of Brandon Workman at Triple-A Pawtucket:“To continue on what he was working on between starts here, and that is more consistent command at the bottom of the strike zone. When he’s been down, that’s when he’s been most effective. Coming back from the time suspended and the delay that was in there, he was having a little bit more difficult time getting the bottom of the strike zone, and then we saw the home runs [allowed] as a result of that. That’s what we’re focusing on.”
  • On the observations of right-hander Anthony Ranaudo at Triple-A Pawtucket:“He’s been talked about a lot. The reports have been strong. He’s been in the discussion if a starter were needed. So, he’s doing everything he can to impact that.”
  • On what he knows about minor league lefty Ryan Verdugo from the Royals:“Not a lot other than he’s got brief major league time. I don’t know a whole lot more about him.”
Read More: anthony ranaudo, Boston Red Sox, christian vazquez, John Farrell
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