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Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Farrell on catching situation, fixing Bard

By Joe McDonald



NASHVILLE -- Red Sox manager John Farrell held a session with reporters Tuesday at baseball's winter meetings. Here's what he had to say:

Q: What kind of progress do you think you guys have made so far this offseason?

A: "Well, given the number of needs that we have, obviously, the addition of David Ross, Jonny Gomes, adds to that. Not only with just the ability to create more offense, but a definite intent to bring in guys that are proven team guys, guys of high character. I know that's something that Ben and I have talked a lot about, extensively about, and I think we're making the progress that we've hoped, at least in the early going, with adding those types of players.”

Q: Assuming that Mike Napoli passes his physical and he comes on board, how do you envision using him, especially in the field?

A: "If all that comes to fruition, he's a guy that is a type of player that we want to bring in. Again, if this is finalized, we see him as a first baseman primarily, but with the ability to catch and to acclimate him to our pitchers in spring training. One of the things we would do, provided all this goes through, is that we would have him catch in spring training early on, but then certainly make sure that we've got enough reps at first base for not only him to feel comfortable there, but for us as well.”

Q: Given Mike's history with John Lackey, are you philosophically averse or open to having personal catchers or guys match up, or would it more likely be schedule matchups and other things that dictate his playing time behind the plate?

A: "I think it's all of our intent, by the time we leave spring training, we've identified who our No.1 catcher is going to be. What I want to avoid is the catcher of the day, so to speak. I think it's important for our staff and the catchers that end up on our roster to make sure they have an understanding of what their role is and how they can best prepare for that. So recognize that there's history. One, we've got to get him finalized, and, two, we'll figure all that out as we get through spring training.”

Q: Do you have a No. 1 catcher at this point? Or in your mind, is that up for grabs?

A: "I think that's something we'll get a clear understanding of as we go through the offseason and certainly spring training.”

Q: Do you know if any guys are playing WBC at all?

A: "Not yet. We haven't had that list of invites or requests by their respective countries. When that does come out, we've got to take into account if there's any physical ailments that guys are lingering through the offseason, whether it's David (Ortiz) or Dustin (Pedroia). Just to name a couple of guys that might be on the invite list.”

Q: Is there a type of pitcher that fits well with the other starters you have coming back in terms of styles that would make you a better rotation?

A: "Right now I can't say we're focused on style, rather performance history. That would take precedent. Innings certainly is one. A criteria is that we're looking to add someone to log a number of innings. So that's probably to the extent I can say who we're talking to."

Q: What type of player do you envision playing right field?

A: "It’s probably the toughest right field in baseball to play, just in terms of the space to cover, so that range comes into play, and yet you try to combine the best range available with some offensive production. It might not be your prototypical type of right fielder where it’s a power bat because we do value the defense in that area. That’s not to exclude anyone, but defense takes a high priority in that position at Fenway."

Q: Would you consider Ryan Lavarnway at first base?

A: "Not yet. And I say not yet because we're looking to exhaust every development time with him, and he's got maintenance, as every player does, to be as proficient behind the plate. One of the things we're still building with him is just the overall number of games caught in any given year. Last year being the highest, right around 100 games caught. Right now our focus is to keep him behind the plate.”

Q: How much have you talked to Will Middlebrooks this winter? And where is he at healthwise?

A: "Healthwise to be ready for spring training. I spoke to him a number of times from Boston with situations coming up there. I'm planning to go to Dallas a couple of weeks from now to see him and maybe some other players that might be in that area. So it will be another opportunity to connect with him. There's no lingering effects with the wrist or anything like that or the hand."

Q: What's the health status of David Ortiz? How's he doing with the Achilles and his rehab?

A: "Everything has progressed on schedule. I think he's due to come back to Boston sometime middle of this month to get another recheck, but the rehab that he's been going through, the treatment he's been getting, all of that has been able to respond in the time frame and the overall, I guess, prognosis of his rehab to be ready for spring training."

Q: What’s the process to take Daniel Bard back to being successful? How much of that is physical? How much of that is his mindset and how he goes about pitching?

A: "The separation of mental and fundamental is a great debate, what's going to come first. I think it's first and foremost that we get him in a position to command the baseball a little bit more regularly. Just in reviewing some video from last year versus a couple of years previous, there's some noticeable changes there just from a physical side. So I think to address those first and then have some reminders through video of where he was, either on the rubber previously or where his arm slot was or what his mindset was to begin to discuss what he tried to do as a pitcher. And what I mean by that is in the role of a late-inning, one-inning guy, it's a completely different mindset than the attempt to manage a game over six or seven innings. I think he tried to, quote, unquote, pitch rather than be dominant with his stuff. So those are the angles that I would want, and I would both look to take with him and get him back to a more simplified, more power type of approach."

Q: In your conversations with him, do you feel like he's turned the page from last year?

A: "I think you turn the page as the calendar turns. I don't know that you can fully separate yourself from the experiences that took place. Those are going to continue to shape who he is as a pitcher going forward and to learn from the adversity that he faced. I think along the way he's probably learned more about himself as well."

Q: Given what he was until last year, how potentially important a guy could he be for you?

A: "I think, if we could snap our fingers and go back to 2009, 2010, I'd be looking at one of the top two or three setup men in baseball. Clearly a weapon that, depending on where you were in the lineup, he was always matched up against the middle of the lineup, regardless if it was left-handed or right-handed, and pitched a lot of high-leverage innings in that seventh and eighth situation."