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October 18, 2013

John Farrell


Q.  Given what went on with Mike Napoli and his hip and all the uncertainty at the beginning of the season, how happy, excited, pleased, about how he performed all year and how he's doing now?
JOHN FARRELL:  Most importantly we're happy for Mike and the treatment that he began last offseason, the way he's physically responded to that, the follow‑up imaging that's taken place just to monitor.  The treatment is working.  It's not allowed any further deterioration, for lack of a better term, and the way he's performed is everything that we anticipated.  And a main contributor to our entire year.

Q.  Speaking of Mike, you've talked many times about what a streaky player he is.  How do you figure out how long to be patient with him while waiting for that streak to come, or what lets you do that?
JOHN FARRELL:  I don't know that you're looking for any indicators, you're personally willing to put him in the lineup every day.  And you ride through the peaks and the valleys.
As we talked about the other day, when it was thought because of his struggles or the way things were going in this postseason do you look to sit him.  And that was never contemplated, other than Game 2 where we thought there might be a better matchup with Mike Carp and the left‑hander.
When he gets into that upswing he can carry us.  And not just because of the home run he hit last night, you see the other things he's very capable of doing.  And the base running, he might be our best instinctual baserunner on this team.  And that's not to be confused with foot speed, but his reads and breaks are tremendous.

Q.  Given how much Shane Victorino has been struggling at the bat, have you put any thought in moving him to the bottom of the order, similar to what Leyland did with Jackson and maybe putting someone like Nava in the 2 hole?
JOHN FARRELL:  There's been some thought to that.  But to the point of making a change, haven't gotten to that point yet.

Q.  After you guys clinched the Division you still worked pretty hard to clinch that home field.  How much does it validate that, now that you're in this situation here, where you have a chance to finish these guys off here?
JOHN FARRELL:  The one thing that we've looked at is what's the task at hand and what might that mean down the line, we don't know or didn't know at the time.  But it was important to us as we were finishing out the final week of the regular season to secure home field advantage.
I can't say that we sat around and said this is what it will mean in Game 6 or Game 7 or Game 5 in another division, or in the Division Series.
But I think, again, it goes back to what we set out in Spring Training, and that's been the mantra all year long, is what does tonight have in store for us and how do you go about to find a way to win a game?  If that has other meanings such as securing home field advantage, so be it.  That same attitude will be present tomorrow.

Q.  Given the all‑around game that David Ross had, any dilemma there as to who to start tomorrow?
JOHN FARRELL:  No, as of right now Salty will be behind the plate.  Xander will be at third.  And without making an official lineup, that's two thoughts on what might draw some attention to who might be at what position.

Q.  Going into the series was Tazawa tapped as the Cabrera matchup or did that develop as the series went along?
JOHN FARRELL:  Probably more just style.  When we've been hurt by Cabrera it's probably been some off‑speed pitches that haven't gotten to the spot.  You're almost looking for ways to minimize the damage against such a great hitter as him.  And typically that could be a well‑located fastball.  And that's just Nichi's strength.  Given the guys that we have available in the bullpen, we felt like it was the best matchup.  It wasn't like it was targeted going in.
I personally look at each guy in how they might fit a certain part of that lineup.  He fits that lineup, where it was Hunter, where it is Cabrera and where it was Jackson prior to the change in their lineup.  And as it turns out that matchup has been pivotal in this series so far.

Q.  When you guys got Koji was there any thought that he could be a closer at some point or was it absolute necessity that you had to put him in that role?
JOHN FARRELL:  Well, with the way things transpired it became necessity.  But we knew he was going to be a key contributor toward the back end of the bullpen.  His track record indicates that.  And I keep going back to the fact that this is ‑‑ he's not doing something this year that is so out of the norm for him.  He's been a very successful pitcher, whether it's been in Japan or here.  But the fact he's the closer here, he's gained the notoriety that he deserves.

Q.  Clay said yesterday there's pitching in the postseason and pitching in deciding games.  Can you talk about your experience in these types of games, whether it's coaching or managing, that brings an extra element to the ballpark?
JOHN FARRELL:  There's a lot more that hinges on the decisions, a lot more scrutiny, and a lot more urgency.  This does present a different set of circumstances, where if Lackey's performance or Lester's performance last night, if we're in regular season, you're probably letting them go a little bit longer, because, one, you don't have the off days to benefit from the following day, where you can go to the bullpen a little bit more aggressively.  And you want your starters to pitch as deep into every game as possible.  And if that means giving up a run in that sixth or seventh inning.  But in these scenarios, you know, to do what you can to match up, hopefully, in a way to preserve whatever lead you have, that becomes more to the forefront.

Q.  How pivotal has it been that you've been able to contain Fielder and how have your guys gone about doing that?
JOHN FARRELL:  Well, I think anytime that you can slow down a middle‑of‑the‑order bat it certainly works in your favor.  And they can point to guys in the middle of our order that they've slowed down, as well.  We've done it probably a few different ways against Prince; left‑handers are going to attack him a certain way, right‑handers will, as well.  But we've been fortunate enough for the most part to keep the ball on the ground with him.

Q.  When you're facing a pitcher like Scherzer the second time in the series, what kind of adjustments do you make?
JOHN FARRELL:  It will evolve inside the game.  Probably the same answer to the question about Sanchez going into yesterday, there's a little more recent familiarity, particularly against a team that we don't see as frequently as Tampa in the Divisional Series.
So the history with an individual starter is less than.  But recent experience gives some comfort level to the guys that go up to the plate each time to face them.  I would think the same would be on the other side with Clay tomorrow and the Tiger lineup.

Q.  With Koji being able to go for four outs or now five outs and that shortening the bridge starter to closer, how is that advantageous for you in the way you choose to use guys in your pen?
JOHN FARRELL:  It allows us to go, in a case like last night, to Tazawa earlier.  We've probably ‑‑ it's pretty clear we've designated certain guys when we've got a lead versus behind in the score who we're going to turn to.
And the fact is that Breslow can go one‑plus innings, Tazawa last night one‑plus, which maybe we don't like to go as long with him as we do other guys.  But Koji's ability, he's our best reliever.  And to be able to use him for more outs is hopefully shortening the game down, which last night was the case.

Q.  Just back on the lineup, even with Scherzer I'm guessing Napoli will be in there tomorrow?
JOHN FARRELL:  Yes, he will be.

Q.  With working Xander is it harder to take Drew out because of his defense and how well he works with Pedroia up the middle?
JOHN FARRELL:  There's been a lot calling for Stephen's head, seemingly, but he's a very good player.  And in these games defense is a premium.  And when a defensive play hasn't been made and you give a team an extra out, as good as these two teams are, you're likely going to pay for that.  And I'm not saying that we don't have good defenders otherwise.  But Stephen has taken good swings.  We all recognize the struggles that are there.  But he shores up the middle of our infield so well, I don't want to ‑‑ I'm certainly going to preserve that.  And yes, Stephen will be in the lineup tomorrow.

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