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Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Farrell sees Nava playing in St. Louis

By Tony Lee, Special to ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- Red Sox manager John Farrell is sticking with Jonny Gomes in left field over Daniel Nava in Game 1 of the World Series, despite the presence of right-hander Adam Wainwright. Nava may get back in there when the series shifts to St. Louis.

“With Wainwright and [Game 2 starter Michael] Wacha, there’s not the pronounced left right splits as there might be with [Game 3 starter Lance] Lynn and [Game 4 starter Joe] Kelly,” Farrell said. “Jonny has done an excellent job in the time that he started, evident by the way that we’ve performed as a team, but I can’t single him out as the reason why. He plays left field extremely well here.

“Keeping Daniel Nava involved will be there. And with more ground to cover in St. Louis, that will be something that will be factored in with the lineup over there, in addition to the right handers we’ll face there. At the same time, Daniel Nava, as we sat down and talked a couple of times and given my thoughts and rationale behind some of the decisions, he’s on board and very much a team player. He admits and recognizes to his credit that this is about us as a team and not an individual.”

Wainwright’s splits against righties and lefties were almost identical this year. Wacha, in his limited action, was actually much tougher on lefties. Lefties had an OPS more than 100 points higher than righties against Lynn, which suggests that will be a good game to get Nava back in there.

Here is the full Game 1 lineup against Wainwright:

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Shane Victorino, RF
3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Mike Napoli, 1B
6. Jonny Gomes, LF
7. Xander Bogaerts, 3B
8. Stephen Drew, SS
9. David Ross, C

A few other news and notes from Farrell’s talk with the media prior to Game 1.

* Bogaerts, 21, will be the youngest player to appear in the World Series since Miguel Cabrera with the Florida Marlins in 2003 at the age of 20. After what he’s seen thus far this month, Farrell has no hesitation with his decision to stick with the youngster.

“Well, what’s not normal is Xander Bogaerts. He’s not a typical 21 year old,” Farrell said. “We’ve talked a lot about the poise, the presence, the composure in which he plays. Even in the tightest moments, the smile never seems to leave his face. He might be flying on the inside, but externally there’s no outward anxious moments. And he certainly performed much the same."

Bogaerts was 3-for-6 (all doubles) with three walks in the American League Championship Series.

* Although Bogaerts and others have displayed a steely calm in tight moments, there will be an added intensity under the bright lights of the World Series. That all comes with the territory.

“Well, if guys aren’t feeling some adrenaline, they might not be human,” Farrell said. “It’s perfectly natural to have some adrenaline and emotion in situations like this.”

Farrell feels he has the right guys to thrive in such a situation.

“It’s much the reason why we talked about how guys perform in this environment in the postseason. And if that causes you to make personnel decisions that are separate of maybe some performance numbers across the course of a regular season, that comes into it. But I’m sure that this will be an electric environment here tonight, as will be the case Game 3 in St. Louis.”

* Much of the talk entering the series centered on how the Cardinals will handle matters when the Red Sox are on base. One of Boston’s greatest strengths is its ability on the bases and the Cardinals thrive on limiting opponents’ running game.

There will be intrigue of a different kind when St. Louis gets runners on base, for it is up to Red Sox pitchers to shut down one of the best clutch hitting teams in baseball.

“They have a very consistent approach up and down their lineup,” Farrell said of St. Louis, which hit a record .330 with runners in scoring position. “They do such a good job of staying inside the baseball, using centerfield in the off field; right handers using the big part of the field in right center field. It's allowed them to stay on some breaking balls away. They have a pronounced two strike approach. They’re difficult to strike out. Because of that same approach, they make a lot of contact. There’s not a lot of swing and miss that enables them to drive in runners that are in scoring position. To think that they’ve hit 52 points higher than us with runners in scoring position is pretty remarkable.”

Among the best in those situations is Allen Craig, who is returning to the lineup after missing the final 23 games of the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs with a foot injury. Craig hit a remarkable .454 with runners in scoring position.

Craig’s ability to hit the ground running could be a deciding factor in the series.

“Run producer in the middle of the order as a right handed hitter,” Farrell said of Craig. “I’m sure they’re feeling pretty good that they can use him in the DH role. We also recognize that there’s been 40 some games missed, and that’s not being taken lightly on our part, because we’ve seen guys step back in after sizable games missed and have performed very well. Jhonny Peralta, obviously, we came off a series in which we just saw that.

“So anytime you have the ability to lengthen out the lineup with that kind of power bat in the middle, it’s a further challenge for us.”