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Friday, September 20, 2013
Dempster goes back to bullpen

By Tony Lee, Special to ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- Red Sox manager John Farrell said Friday that right-hander Ryan Dempster will work out of the bullpen for the remainder of the regular season as the team gears up for a smaller rotation in the postseason.

Dempster was in line to start one of the two games in the team’s upcoming series in Colorado, but will instead utilize a week-plus to prep for a role he held for four years earlier in his career.

“Had a chance to meet with him yesterday and walk through some of the scenarios that exist and he is fully on board,” Farrell said. “He’s a professional and understands it and this gives him some opportunities to adjust his warm-up routine. He’s excited and looking forward to his role.”

The veteran has made more than 200 relief appearances in his career, most in high-leverage situations as the regular closer with the Chicago Cubs from 2005 to 2007. While Dempster will give Boston another long relief option, Farrell intends to utilize him in more traditional one-inning stints, or thereabouts. Not only does Dempster have experience in such a role, but he brings with him to the bullpen a makeup that could yield some positive results. He ranks ninth among American League qualifiers in strikeouts per nine innings, giving him the ability to get a big K in a tight spot. Also, Dempster has looked very strong early in his outings before hitting some bumps in the road as the middle innings set in -- he owns a 2.17 ERA while limiting opponents to a .236 mark and striking out 32 in his 29 first innings this season.

“You see stuff in the first and second inning as being crisp and with the potential that it ticks up a little bit from there,” Farrell said. “I think this move with him, in my mind, there’s some intrigue with this because if there’s the ability to uptick with later action to the stuff and the experience that he’s had in one-innings stints, this could turn out to be a very good thing.”

After Jon Lester goes Friday night against Toronto, Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront will finish up the final homestand of the season and Jake Peavy is scheduled to start the first game in Colorado on Tuesday. The finale of that set Wednesday night will either go to one of the call-ups, such as Allen Webster or Steven Wright, or it will be a game where Farrell pieces nine innings together with several guys who simply need some work.

As for the series at Baltimore on the final weekend of the regular season, Farrell continues to hold his cards close to the vest. He repeated Friday that Lester, Buchholz and John Lackey will appear in Camden Yards but would not reveal the order, which would offer some hints as to who starts the first two games of a division series.

Farrell said that Doubront may go to the pen after his final start of the year but nothing is set in stone.