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John Farrell on Stephen Drew: ‘The one thing that we don’t want is a lingering what-if’ 02.15.14 at 1:03 pm ET
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John Farrell speaks on Saturday morning in Fort Myers (WEEI.com)

John Farrell speaks on Saturday morning in Fort Myers (WEEI.com)

FORT MYERS — The clock may be ticking for the Red Sox and free agent Stephen Drew.

The team retains interest in bringing back the shortstop in 2014. But for now, there is no apparent progress in talks with the 30-year-old. With the vast majority of the Red Sox‘ 40-man roster now in camp — including the two players who would be most directly impacted if Drew re-signed, shortstop Xander Bogaerts and third baseman Will Middlebrooks — the Sox would like some clarity regarding their roster so that they can prepare for the season.

“I think there’s been ongoing dialogue there but there’s nothing new to really report or update,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “I think the one thing that we don’t want is a lingering what-if if Stephen is still out there. I think in all fairness to our guys, our clubhouse, guys that would be affected if he were to be brought in, certainly I can’t speak for [GM Ben Cherington] in this situation, I think the more that we know what our team is going to look like, or at least those guys in our clubhouse, it probably settles some of that wondering if another player is going to join us.”

Farrell said that, for the time being, Bogaerts will prepare exclusively at shortstop, with the club adapting as necessary should another player acquisition take place.

“The conversations with Xander to date have been to focus on shortstop,” said Farrell. “If that needs to be adjusted, we’ll adjust it at that time, but we’re moving forward with the players that are here.”

OTHER NOTES

– Farrell identified the three key questions facing the Sox this spring as being pitcher health, the question of who will lead off (with Shane Victorino and Daniel Nava representing the most likely candidates, with the possibility of switching between the two in that spot based on whether a right-handed or left-handed starter is on the mound) and transitioning a pair of rookies (Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr.) to up-the-middle positions.

– Farrell said that Jon Lester, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz, based on their added workloads of a year ago, will make five spring training starts rather than the typical six.

– The manager suggested that the Sox regard Middlebrooks as an impact player, with his struggles in 2013 (.227 average, .271 OBP, .425 slugging, 17 homers in 94 games) representing what the team hopes is an aberration.

“I think in talking with Will at length, whether it was throughout the course of the year or having sit-down conversations with him in the offseason, he learned a lot last year. He was challenged in a few ways. I think that through those experiences, he’s understanding of what his needs and what his strengths are more readily, and that’s part of the maturation process of a player,” said Farrell. “The one thing he hasn’t lost is his raw abilities and his talent. I feel like what he was two years ago is maybe more representative than what he was a year ago, and we feel like there’s a very good major league player in there.”

– Farrell said that outfielder Grady Sizemore is moving well in the early paces of camp and doesn’t face any physical restrictions at this time, but he also noted that it’s impossible to get a clear picture of where he is until he has a chance to play in games for the first time since 2011.

– Left-hander Felix Doubront is making an adjustment in his delivery to improve his strike-throwing, but while Farrell noted that such an adjustment could prove significant on the mound, the more meaningful change was an improvement in offseason conditioning from a year ago.

“There are times where his arm action would get a little bit long. That would maybe create some inconsistencies with strike-throwing and I think once you see him throw on the mound you’€™ll see a little shorter arm-circle on the back side and maybe a little more rhythm in his hands. Those are two areas that might sound subtle in conversation but can have a pretty profound effect on overall consistency,” said Farrell. “Most importantly what Felix has done this offseason is he’€™s done a great job putting himself in better physical condition.”

– Saturday marked the official reporting date for pitchers and catchers. Just two pitchers have yet to arrive. Left-hander Jose Mijares (signed to a minor league deal) expected on Monday, while fellow lefty Rich Hill has been delayed by what Farrell described as a family matter.

Read More: daniel nava, felix doubront, grady sizemore, John Farrell
Red Sox pregame notes: Jake Peavy still potential Game 7 starter ‘as of now’; Jon Lester would be available in Game 7 10.30.13 at 5:20 pm ET
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Right-hander Jake Peavy remains in line to be the Red Sox starter for a potential Game 7. (AP)

Right-hander Jake Peavy remains in line to be the Red Sox starter for a potential Game 7. (AP)

Red Sox manager John Farrell said that, “as of now,” Jake Peavy remains the starter to whom he plans to turn should the World Series reach a winner-take-all seventh game. Each time Farrell has made this claim, he’s offered some sort of qualifier (“as of now,” “right now,” etc.). And so, the manager was asked, is there something that might transpire that would result in someone other than Peavy making the start, or is Farrell simply using a default phrase to preface his remarks?

“It’s probably more the way it’s prefaced,” said Farrell.

Still, the Sox will have the rest of their pitching staff available in a potential Game 7, should the series extend to that point. The available arms, said Farrell, would include left-hander Jon Lester as well as right-hander Clay Buchholz.

“They’ll be available before this is over,” Farrell said of the team’s Game 4 and Game 5 starters.

Farrell clarified that, while Buchholz wouldn’t leapfrog other members of the bullpen in terms of their defined late-innings roles, he could be available to pitch as soon as Game 6 tonight. As for Lester, Farrell said that the lower back discomfort that he was dealing with at the end of Game 5 did not represent a significant concern.

“If there is such a thing, it was normal wear and tear,” said Farrell. “That’s what he’s dealing with.”

Farrell also had more praise for left-hander Felix Doubront, and said that the team would not hesitate to use him out of the bullpen in Game 6. He will not be avoided over concerns about his Game 7 role.

“Doubront’s available tonight. We wouldn’t hold him back for tomorrow,” said Farrell.

OTHER RED SOX NOTES

Daniel Nava and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, staples of the Red Sox lineup during the regular season, have found themselves relegated to reserve roles as the postseason has evolved, with Jonny Gomes and David Ross taking over primary responsibilities in left field and behind the plate. Farrell acknowledged that a drastic change of responsibilities can be hard for the players to accept, yet he can’t be beholden to player preferences in making his lineup decisions at this time of year. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brandon Workman, Clay Buchholz, daniel nava, felix doubront
Gabe Kapler on M&M: ‘Red Sox are going to win this series in seven’ at 1:50 pm ET
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Gabe Kapler

Gabe Kapler

Fox Sports baseball analyst Gabe Kapler joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday afternoon to talk about the World Series as the Red Sox prepare to host the Cardinals in Game 6.

Kapler, a former Red Sox outfielder, predicted the Tigers would top the Sox in the American League Championship Series. He’s going with Boston in the World Series, but he predicts it will take one more day.

“The Red Sox are going to win this series in seven,” Kapler said. “But tonight, [Michael] Wacha‘s going to be too much for the Red Sox to handle. I was breaking down his mechanics yesterday, and this is the reason that this kid is so strong and that he’s not going to falter: His shoulders have zero percent tilt. That allows him to pound the strike zone accurately and not utilize his shoulder tilt for power.

“So, on top of this crazy deceptive delivery, straight over the top, he’s also got really good lower-half and upper-half mechanics. And that’s why — even if the pressure gets to him a little bit — he still is able to maintain that focus and pound the strike zone. And I just think that he’s going to be too much for the Red Sox tonight. But I will take the Red Sox in seven.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell turned some heads by electing to start Jonny Gomes in left over Daniel Nava in Game 6. Kapler said Wacha’s changeup might have played a role in that decision.

“The reason that I think, perhaps, that John Farrell may go with Jonny Gomes over Nava is because of that equalizer changeup,” Kapler said. “Because otherwise, the weighted on-base average for Nava is so significantly better than Jonny Gomes that there’s no other reason or answer why Jonny Gomes would be in the lineup. So I think maybe that changeup equalizing the left-handed bat might be the reason that John is deciding to go with Jonny Gomes.”

David Ortiz has been an offensive force through the first five games, leading to speculation that the Cardinals will try a new approach with him.

“You have to move his feet. If you don’t throw the ball up and in tonight and get him a little bit uncomfortable, you are doing yourself a huge disservice,” Kapler said. “And I understand [Mike] Matheny‘s take, and also [Adam] Wainwright‘s take. He’s like, ‘We want to just go after these guys, we don’t want to show anybody any fear.’ But at the same time, this guy’s been so incredibly dominant. He’s reached base 15 of 20 times in the World Series. That’s unheard of. It’s not like he’s reaching base against the fourth and the fifth starters; he’s reaching base against the aces.

“This guy is as good as he was in 2004. And as we all know, he was pretty good back then.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: daniel nava, David Ortiz, felix doubront, Gabe Kapler
Curt Schilling on D&C: Playing Jonny Gomes over Daniel Nava doesn’t make sense at 11:15 am ET
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ESPN’s Curt Schilling joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday and voiced his opinion on some of Red Sox manager John Farrell’s decisions this World Series, and he tried to explain why St. Louis pitched to David Ortiz in Game 5.

Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling

Farrell announced on Tuesday that, with the return of Shane Victorino to right field, Jonny Gomes would receive the start in left field over Daniel Nava in Game 6 on Wednesday at Fenway Park. Schilling said, “No, not at all,” does starting Gomes over Nava make sense to him.

“I love Daniel Nava, I think the kid is just a complete player,” Schilling said. “I think that the Gomes thing is exactly what John said — I think it’s a hunch, and he’s continuing to play it.”

Schilling also questioned Farrell’s decision-making throughout the series.

“I thought John had made some questionable moves and changes, and I thought got outmanaged a couple of different times,” Schilling said. “They’re playing poorly, but they’re good enough to play around that. I guess they’re one of the few teams that can do that.”

If not for Ortiz, the Red Sox likely would find themselves in a significantly different situation. St. Louis continues to pitch to Ortiz despite the fact he possesses a .733/750/1.267 batting line, with four extra-base hits in five games.

“The problem is that he’s so locked in, it’s very Barry Bonds-like in the sense that when he was going well, he would literally get one pitch, not an at-bat, a game, and when he got it he would never miss it. David is getting a pitch an at bat and he’s not missing it,” Schilling said.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: barry bonds, Curt Schilling, daniel nava, David Ortiz
John Farrell: David Ross, Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes in for Game 6 10.29.13 at 5:12 pm ET
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David Ross

David Ross

Speaking to the media prior to his team’s workout Tuesday at Fenway Park, Red Sox manager John Farrell said that David Ross would be starting at catcher in Game 6 of the World Series. Farrell also noted that Shane Victorino (back) is expected to return to the lineup, with Jonny Gomes getting the nod over Daniel Nava in left field.

Ross has previously caught Game 6 starter John Lackey twice this season, limiting opponents to a 2.38 ERA (3 ER, 11 1/3 innings).

The catcher is coming off a two-hit performance in Game 5 in which he managed the go-ahead, ground-rule, RBI double in the seventh inning of the Red Sox’ 3-1 win Monday night. For the postseason Ross is hitting .286 (6-for-21). Only one baserunner has stolen on him.

Farrell is also attempting to ride the semi-hot hand with Gomes, who claimed one of the biggest hits of the series when he launched a three-run blast in Game 4. The left fielder was 0-for-4 with a strikeout against St. Louis Game 6 starter Michael Wacha when the pair faced off in Game 2.

More to come …

Read More: daniel nava, David Ross, John Farrell, john lackey
Red Sox workout day notes: Clay Buchholz to start, John Farrell defends Stephen Drew 10.25.13 at 6:41 pm ET
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ST. LOUIS — Red Sox manager John Farrell, prior to his team’s workout on Friday’s World Series off-day, offered a number of updates regarding how he plans to use his roster in Games 3 and 4 of the World Series. Among them:

– Farrell said that Clay Buchholz will start Game 4 of the World Series on Sunday.

“He went through a throwing program today. Went back to about a hundred feet with some increased intensity along the way, and he’s starting Sunday,” said Farrell.

– Despite Stephen Drew‘s offensive struggles — which rank among the most severe ever in a single postseason — Farrell certainly didn’t sound like he had any plans to sit him anytime soon, based on the shortstop’s tremendous defense throughout the postseason in a low run-scoring environment.

“[Drew's defense has] been critical,” Farrell said. “While he has had his struggles, they’re well documented, we live it with him. But he has played such a strong defensive position at shortstop. Last night there’s probably three or four plays that he makes, that might otherwise build into a potential inning for the Cardinals. We can go back to Game 6 in inning seven where he saves a run with two outs, and throws out [Tigers slugger Miguel] Cabrera, that we come back and [Shane] Victorino hits a grand slam to give us the lead. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Clay Buchholz, daniel nava, David Ortiz, John Farrell
Red Sox pregame notes: Sox bullpen taxed but undaunted; why Daniel Nava is sitting; David Ortiz’s struggles; Xander Bogaerts’ maturity 10.19.13 at 7:45 pm ET
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Koji Uehara appeared exhausted after his five-out save in Game 5 of the ALCS. (AP)

Koji Uehara appeared exhausted after his five-out save in Game 5 of the ALCS. (AP)

There are times when the exhaustion is visible in the members of the Red Sox bullpen. Closer Koji Uehara acknowledged after Game 5 of the ALCS, when he recorded a five-out save in 29 pitches, that, yes, he was feeling a bit cooked by his workload. Craig Breslow likewise detailed in his playoff blog that he is “considerably more exhausted” after playoff starts than he was in the regular season.

But while Uehara and Junichi Tazawa have each appeared in seven of the Sox’ nine playoff games and Breslow has pitched in six of them, manager John Farrell‘s usage of them has hardly been to limit them.

“The thing that’s changing is we’re using them more,” said Farrell. “Each guy has rebounded and recovered well. I think there’s also an added adrenaline that flows right now that might not be there regular season. Not to say that they’re superhuman, but I think, much like will take place today, I’ll make my rounds in the outfield and just double-check with them, and I know they’re all going to say, yes, they’re ready to go. Again, because they’ve been so efficient, we’ve been fortunate where we really haven’t really overtaxed one guy, other than the number of outs have increased. But we haven’t blown up a pitch count for any particular guy that would say he needs multiple days off.”

Farrell noted particularly that Uehara has been good about making clear the nature of the workload he can handle.

“I fully recognize that these pitches have added stress to them. That’s all factored in, yet I trust what he tells me. And he’s been great about that,” said Farrell. “Jokingly, I’ve heard him, [after I'll] say, ‘Five, six outs,’ he’ll say, ‘Four.’ But you know, the other night he got loose very quick. We’ve called down and said, ‘It could be five tonight.’ ”

Still, as much as Uehara has proven resilient and capable of responding to the Sox’ needs, Farrell also acknowledged that he was aware that Uehara appeared spent after his five-out, 29-pitch save in Detroit. He planned to check in with his closer during batting practice. And the manager said he would be mindful of his closer’s feeling of fatigue as he determines his potential workload for Game 6.

All of that being the case, Farrell was asked, does he think that Uehara would be limited to just three outs on Saturday?

“Not in my mind,” said Farrell.

OTHER RED SOX NOTES

– The Tigers feature an all right-handed rotation. Prior to the series, that fact made it seem likely that Daniel Nava would be a staple of the Sox’ lineup during the American League Championship Series. Instead, for the fourth time in the series’ six games, Nava — whose .385 OBP ranked fifth in the American League this year — is once again on the bench, with Jonny Gomes getting the start against Max Scherzer in Game 6.

That decision by manager John Farrell reflects in part on the fact that Nava has struggled in his career against Scherzer (1-for-9). But it also attests to the fact that Farrell feels that Gomes changes the dynamic of the team, delivering energy both on the bases and in the field that Nava can’t necessarily replicate. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Craig Breslow, daniel nava, jake peavy, Jonny Gomes
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