Friday, October 4, 2013
Farrell: Doubront gives us 'multiple innings'
By Gordon Edes
BOSTON -- John Farrell was at the ballpark by 7:45 a.m. Friday morning. He didn’t even stop for coffee.
“I got a pot right there,’’ the Red Sox manager said, gesturing to the one sitting in his office.
He wasn’t the only early arrival. “Salty was already here,’’ Farrell said, referring to Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
The Red Sox filed their 25-man roster Friday morning, and the one mild surprise was the decision to keep left-hander Felix Doubront instead of lefty Matt Thornton. Doubront initially had displayed a lack of enthusiasm about a move to the bullpen, but after multiple meetings with Farrell evidently decided to embrace the role.
“We looked at Felix’s ability to give multiple innings,’’ Farrell said, “if we were to get into a situation where there was a lengthy rain delay and needed multiple innings to start back up. He gives us multiple innings and a guy who had a very good year for us.’’
The Sox had looked for Thornton to help fill the void left by Andrew Miller’s season-ending foot injury when they acquired Thornton from the White Sox in a July trade. But he strained an oblique muscle in August that put him on the disabled list, and when he did pitch he showed erratic command.
In his last seven appearances, opposing batters posted a .412 AVG/.500 OBP/.471 SLG slash line against him, with seven hits in 17 at-bats. He also walked three batters in that span.
Even so, Farrell said his meetings with Doubront, the last of which took place on Tuesday, were “critical” to the decision to choose the Venezuelan left-hander.
“Yeah, that sit-down with him was critical in terms of accepting the role and understanding the need to change in routine,’’ he said. “The first inning in Baltimore [Sunday] was encouraging, and yet what needed to be clarified was that he could pitch to one batter or [pitch] four innings, and to remain open- ended, open-minded, and go pitch to the best of his abilities until we take the ball out of his hand.’’
Doubront had pitched a scoreless fourth inning in Baltimore, but then gave up five runs on five hits and two walks in the fifth, retiring just one batter. At that point, it looked like he had taken himself out of the running for the ALDS roster.
Thornton also pitched Sunday, giving up a double to the switch-hitting Brian Roberts and throwing a wild pitch before breaking left-handed hitter Nick Markakis’ bat on a roller to short.
Farrell identified Franklin Morales as the left-hander in the pen he would likely use in matchup situations against lefties. In his last four appearances, Morales struck out four left-handed batters: Adam Lind of the Jays, Todd Helton of the Rockies (twice) and Markakis.
Keeping Doubront as a long man, Farrell said, also frees him up to use Ryan Dempster in a potential matchup situation against a right-handed hitter.
Farrell said the Sox are keeping Thornton, catcher Ryan Lavarnway and infielder John McDonald with the major league team. They will be allowed to dress and be in the dugout with the club, along with injured pitchers Miller and Andrew Bailey.
Four other players were en route to the team’s instructional league camp in Fort Myers, Fla., to stay active in case they are needed in later playoff rounds: outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., infielder Brandon Snyder and pitchers Drake Britton and Rubby De La Rosa.
The four-day layoff since the regular-season finale has probably been most beneficial to outfielders Shane Victorino and Jacoby Ellsbury, Farrell said. The manager said Victorino is no longer feeling any discomfort from his jammed thumb, and Ellsbury benefited from the extra time to recover from the aftereffects of the fractured bone in his right foot.
How did Farrell feel on the eve of his first game managing in the playoffs?
“We started out in February hoping to be in this position, and worked all year for the right to play in October,’’ he said. “I think everybody in the last four days has been building for this moment, to get it started. I’m no different.’’
On a wall in Farrell’s office are rows of photos of past Sox managers, arranged in chronological order. One was missing: Terry Francona. In its place was a photo of clubhouse man Edward “Pookie” Jackson. Farrell swears he doesn’t know how it got there; he and Francona, of course, are great friends.
“I walked in one day and there it was,’’ Farrell said. “I almost jumped out of my seat.’’