It’s hard enough for a team to remain focused and composed during the grind of a 162-game season. It becomes an even harder ordeal when almost a third of your team might be shipped off in the coming days.
That’s the scenario plaguing the Red Sox, who, with a 1.7 percent chance of making the playoffs, have accepted the role of seller this year.
Multiple players have heard their names come up in trade rumors, with Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jonny Gomes, Koji Uehara, Andrew Miller, Mike Carp and Stephen Drew all facing the possibility of playing for a different team in a matter of days.
While the thought of losing multiple players -- many of whom played key roles in Boston’s World Series run in 2013 – is likely a huge distraction in Boston’s clubhouse, Red Sox manager John Farrell stressed in his pregame press conference Tuesday that it is imperative for the team not to lose the unity and camaraderie that it had built over the last two seasons during this stressful time of the year.
“There’s a lot of talk,” Farrell said. “We’re not unrealistic to see that players are hearing and seeing their name associated with a potential [trade], so those are some common distractions that are associated with the trading deadline. We do what we can to maintain an open line of communication, that’s the here and the now.
“I will say this, that it is important that we all continue to focus as a team. … The things that we established a year ago and the things that we continue to build, that can’t be sacrificed with a so-called distraction taking away from the way we play. That’s unacceptable, in my mind.”
Farrell continued: “There’s still a lot of answers to be had this year, and I think our guys are well aware of that despite the current couple of days where there’s a lot of talk. … I think it’s important to recognize that we don’t sacrifice the expectation of what goes on in between the lines.”
While trade rumors have dominated talk around the team for the past week or so, Farrell said that he tries to remain focused on the task at hand Tuesday night – earning a win against the Blue Jays.
“The way we’re wired, I don’t look past 7:00 tonight. There’s going to be a lot that happens between now and August 1,” Farrell said, adding: “I try not to get too far ahead of myself.”
– Farrell was asked if it appeared that his team had been distracted in recent games — chiefly, a stretch of six losses in seven games.
“To say that with a broad brush, no, not at all. Are there some things that we address internally? Yes there have been,” said Farrell. Among them: Farrell said that he’d met with left-hander Felix Doubront to discuss a performance on Monday that many observers viewed as indifferent, in which he permitted six runs in 2/3 of an inning and did little to increase his potential trade value Monday.
While Farrell acknowledged meeting with the pitcher after the game, the manager declined to go into specifics regarding the talk.
As a reliever this season, Doubront has allowed 11 earned runs in nine innings while posting an unsightly 2.00 WHIP. On the year, Doubront is 2-4 with a 6.07 ERA.
OTHER RED SOX NOTES
– Another member of the Red Sox rotation could also be on the move in the coming days, as John Lackey has been drawing a large amount of interest due to his consistent performance on the hill and his team-friendly deal for next season that will be at the major league minimum.
While Lackey could be another player shipped off in the near future, Farrell refused to comment on the veteran hurler’s status.
“The only thing that I will say is that we’ve got a number of guys of interest to a number of teams, and to comment specifically on an individual, I can’t say to what level that a team has interest on any one player or pitcher,” Farrell said.
– For the second time in three games, Mike Napoli is out of the Red Sox lineup, with Mike Carp manning first base Tuesday. While speculation is that the decision was made in order to showcase an unhappy Carp to potential trade suitors, Farrell said that the lineup shuffle is the due to Napoli‘s nagging finger injury that he has dealt with since mid-April.
“A down day and just dealing with a little swelling in that finger that he’s been dealing with for quite some time,” Farrell said. “We felt a day down, added treatment, would give him a chance to try to get ahead of it a little bit more.”