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Friday, August 2, 2013
Notes: Farrell feels counterpart's pain

By Tony Lee, Special to

Even though a botched pitching change made by Seattle Mariners acting manager Robby Thompson assisted in the Red Sox’ remarkable ninth-inning comeback Thursday night, Sox manager John Farrell on Friday offered up some pity for his counterpart.

“To me it’s kind of a technicality in some ways. I can understand if Robby was upset,” Farrell said. “I think he had a right to be.”

With one run already in for Boston in the ninth and closer Tom Wilhelmsen scuffling with no outs, Thompson went to call for right-hander Yoervis Medina to try to protect a 7-3 lead. But instead of raising his right arm, the universal sign when a manager is calling for a righty, Thompson lifted his left arm before correcting himself. Although the switch to the right was made in the span of a second or so, crew chief Gary Darling held the Seattle skipper to his original gesture. In trotted lefty Oliver Perez, off walked Thompson in shame, and out the window soon went the Mariners’ seemingly insurmountable lead. By the time Medina relieved Perez it was 7-6, and two more RBI singles gave the Red Sox the most dramatic of their 11 walk-off wins.

Thompson did not put up much of a stink, but Farrell might have if the shoe was on the other foot.

“The rule, as I understand it, the pitcher’s not in the game until he walks on the mound and Robby came out, he signaled to the bullpen and pointed with his left hand and I think in that moment Gary Darling turned around and asked for the left-hander right away,” Farrell said. “And when he tried to change it, Gary held him to his initial decision.”

The thought on Darling’s part, in all likelihood, is that any perceived indecision on Thompson’s part would hinder Farrell’s own strategy. Or would it?

“What they definitely want to avoid is once that decision is made, once you call for a certain reliever and they think that we’re going to pinch hit, if possible, if the situation calls for us to make an adjustment in our lineup,” Farrell said. “But in that span of time I don’t know that we have enough time to counteract the initial move. Maybe I’m a little bit lenient on the view of it. I wouldn’t have protested. To me, I wouldn’t have really made a decision to argue that if he said, ‘No I meant the other guy.’

“Maybe that’s an oversight on my part, but that’s how I viewed it last night.”

Farrell may be influenced in such a statement by the fact that Shane Victorino, a switch hitter who had homered the previous inning, was due up. No move was coming from the Red Sox bench anyway.

At the very least, a lesson was learned by many who were unaware that an umpire could make such a ruling.

“That’s why we only have one reliever up at a time,” Farrell joked.

In other pregame news:

* After shedding some light on Thursday’s action, Farrell turned his attention to the weekend in discussing the Red Sox debut of Jake Peavy, slated for Saturday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Peavy will have had eight days between starts when he takes the mound. That may be a good thing due to his recent activity.

“After being down six weeks [due to a fractured rib], he threw a couple of bullpens, went down to rehab, he jumped up pretty quick in his pitch count,” Farrell said. “His last start he threw 117 [actually 118]. It was a quick advancement to that number.”

Peavy threw 119 pitches and then 69 and 42 with the Chicago White Sox before landing on the disabled list in early June. He made 91 pitches in a rehab start July 14 and then 218 pitches in two outings prior to the trade. So there was a sharp dip, a period of time on the shelf, and then a dramatic uptick in workload. That will force Farrell and the staff to keep a close eye on things Saturday.

“We also have to consider how much recent and consistent activity he’s had. That’s all in the mix,” he said.

* While the veteran Peavy prepares for his debut in Boston, standout pitching prospect Anthony Ranaudo looks forward to his debut for Triple-A Pawtucket after a promotion was announced Friday. Ranaudo, who was 8-4 with a 2.95 ERA at Double-A Portland, will throw for the PawSox at Buffalo on Monday.

That promotion comes on the heels of one for left-handed prospect Henry Owens, who moved up to Double-A Portland on July 31. Owens was 8-5 with a 2.92 ERA at Single-A Salem and had several dominant performances, including hitless outings of six and five innings last month.

“Owens, my gosh, I think there’s been three or four times he’s walked to the mound and thrown no-hit performances, whether it’s been five, six innings at a time,” Farrell said. “He’s probably one of the top pitching prospects in the system. He’s been very strong and I think Ranaudo has had a little bit of a turnaround, particularly after the year he had last year. He’s remained healthy first and foremost, but the velocity has climbed. He’s pitching to the projection that made him a first-round pick back in 2010.”

Ranaudo dropped a bit in the 2010 draft due to injury issues at Louisiana State and struggled in an injury-plagued year with Portland in 2012, posting a 6.69 ERA in just nine starts.

* Franklin Morales was in the Red Sox clubhouse Friday but will pitch out of the PawSox bullpen Saturday and Sunday, after which he could be in the mix to rejoin the big club.

Farrell said he hopes to see the left-hander tested a bit before making any decisions on his next step.

“He’s thrown, I think, two innings of 13 and 15 pitches, so we’d love to say that when he comes back to us he’d be that efficient, but I think we have to give him a little extended,” Farrell said. “He’s had such a start-and-stop year that we want to be sure that he’s at least answered a few questions in this rehab assignment he’s on right now. Whether that means multiple innings, that’s a possibility, but the progression that he’s on is a pretty normal one.”

If the bullpen remains unchanged before Morales comes back, there would be four left-handers out there. Farrell said he will have to assess the balance at that point, but right now just wants to see Morales get to the point where any decision needs to be made.

Morales has appeared in just six games (one start) for Boston, going 2-0 with a 7.30 ERA.