BOSTON -- There wasn’t much in terms of news coming out of Thursday’s workout at Fenway Park, but here are a handful of nuggets to note:
• One of the few “negatives” from the ALDS for Boston was the play of first baseman Mike Napoli, who was 2 for 13 with four strikeouts and had a couple of defensive hiccups. Napoli has fought through plantar fasciitis in his right foot this season, but Farrell saw no need to worry about a lack of production.
“I think he had 13 official at-bats. I can say that we went up against a very good pitching staff that shut a few of our guys down,” Farrell said. “I think the uniqueness of playing Tampa in the first round with the number of games played, the familiarity. They know how to attack our guys and vice versa. I think pitching is always going to have the upper hand when you’ve got a clear-cut plan and you’ve got history against a given opponent, an individual guy or a team, but Mike has been a key member of this offense and will continue to be so going forward.”
Napoli did draw four walks, second on the team to David Ortiz.
• The key to the ALDS was, in the eyes of many, the work of a trio of Red Sox relievers. While Koji Uehara did give up the game-winning home run in Game 3, he was himself the rest of the time and was more than supported by Junichi Tazawa and Craig Breslow, who combined to strike out six in six scoreless innings in the series.
Farrell was asked about both on Thursday. First, his thoughts on Tazawa:
“Despite some inconsistencies in the second half of the year we never lost confidence in him. There might’ve been a couple of pitches that were mislocated over time. I thought the stuff, the power in his fastball, had maintained itself throughout the second half. Important, I think, any time you can get three or four guys into the mix to close out games, can’t ever understate the importance, and Junichi along with Craig Breslow, Koji for obvious reasons, those guys are going to be leaned on heavily and they were in that first series. To me Junichi has a presence of mind, he can control the running game, he’s going to throw strikes and came up big in a few of those situations, particularly with men on base.”
“Not too different than the way he’s thrown the ball over time. He’s quietly put up an outstanding career. We’re talking about someone who’s in their seventh, eighth year with a career era in the twos. Probably isn’t getting the notoriety he deserves in the playoffs, and he’s got that opportunity. To go through the middle of that [Tampa Bay] order, particularly all right-handers after [James] Loney, that’s what we’re gotten so accustomed to seeing, the success against right-handers, when he’s come in and had a clean inning he’s been even that much more effective.
He’s going to be asked to do similar work in this next round.”
• As the Sox worked out Thursday, scouts were in Oakland preparing to get more information on the Tigers and A’s, as is always the case in the significant world of advance scouting. [UPDATE: The Tigers beat the A's in Game 5 on Thursday night to advance to the ALCS against the Sox.] The ALDS involved so many maneuvers that were made with advance information in mind, and Farrell, for the most part, came out of it looking pretty good.
“We’ve had people following both Detroit and Oakland for quite awhile,” he said. “We’ll adjust on the fly here tonight, we’ve got our meetings set for tomorrow.
“From an internal standpoint all the information that has been accumulated, to what Steve Langone and Dave Klipstein have done in the field out ahead of us. Particularly Steve Langone, he’s the guy that’s been with us from day one of spring training been out ahead of us the entire season. They might be under that radar behind the scenes but the work they’ve done has had a huge impact on how we prepared. Not just for the series starting Saturday but for the entire season.”
Much of that work will help the Sox prepare for the pitchers they will face in the ALCS. In Game 1, it's likely to be Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez, whom the Sox haven't faced this season.
“That’s where we’re going to rely on what we talked about with advance scouting,” Farrell said. “The number of looks we have had on those individual pitchers, the work that will be done internally on video here. Our players will get a clear picture in addition to their own video, but first-hand experience we’re going to be short on, but the best that we can do to give them tendencies to outline what a pitcher might look to do in certain situations, counts, otherwise, the more we can rehearse and rehash that, maybe we put our lineup in a better position to succeed.”