ST. LOUIS — Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, in an interview on WEEI, suggested that the Sox believe that Clay Buchholz is “ready to go” and give the team a full workload for Game 4 of the World Series.
“Clay is ready to go. He’s fully armed and loaded. We anticipate Clay giving us 100 pitches and getting into the seventh inning, that’s first and foremost,” said Lovullo, in a conversation about how the Sox used their pitching staff in Game 3 knowing that there are questions about what Buchholz might be able to offer as the Game 4 starter. “But you always have to have that backup thought that just in case, you better have some length or somebody in there to have a little bit of coverage.”
Lovullo also discussed the Sox’ impetus for having Mike Napoli take grounders at third base prior to Game 3 of the World Series, chuckling that team officials knew that having the first baseman do so would “raise some eyebrows.” But he suggested while the Sox are contemplating using Napoli at a position he hasn’t played as a professional since 2004, the team does not view Napoli as an option to start at third base. Lovullo characterized Napoli at third base as being preparation for “an emergency situation.”
“We’re looking for any advantage that we can have, any advantage that will help us score runs by putting the best players out on the field at any given time,” said Lovullo. “[The idea of Napoli at third base is] more of a) an emergency situation b) a quick matchup where we could put him out there for one inning with a double-switch and then potentially have another double-switch where, there might be a pinch-run situation or something for [David Ortiz] where we can slide Napoli back over to first base and now play defense in a go-ahead situation. It’s not for a long-term, nine-inning start. It’s mostly for an emergency, a quick inning double-switch or maybe lightning in a bottle, hit a three-run home run, go ahead and slide him over there, in a situation where we already have maneuvered with some of our backup infielders — in this case, Will — in the game.”
While Lovullo would not detail what changes the Red Sox might make to their Game 4 lineup, he did say that the team was engaged in animated discussions to determine the best deployment for Sunday night.
“We are constantly thinking, looking over every possible advantage we can get,” said Lovullo. “Unfortunately, we’re in a National League ballpark. We can’t play everybody. I think everybody knows that. But I just want the fans to know, I want you guys to know, that between our front office and the staff here sitting down in the clubhouse, we’re trying to exhaust every possibility that’s going to give us the best advantage.”
– Lovullo said that the most difficult decision that manager John Farrell faced was whether or not to leave Brandon Workman in the game to hit for himself rather than turning to Mike Napoli to pinch-hit.
“There were several key moments in the game. I think hardest decision was, do we hit Napoli in Workman’s spot, or do we allow Workman to go out there and create better matchups, give us a better situation, extend innings, give us the best advantage possible for the right pitching matchups. That’s how we’re looking at that,” said Lovullo. “I think it’s more pitching and defense oriented. We talked about that potentially coming down the pipe for about an inning or two. John felt strongly that he wanted Workman to go back out there for a second inning of work, have those precise matchups that were created by that second inning of work.”
– Lovullo, with the benefit of a day to think about the game-ending obstruction ruling, had this to say about the play and the rule:
“It’s easy for me to say I hate the rule. It was a tough pill for us to swallow last night. There was quite an uproar by all of us,” said Lovullo. “Once we slowed the play down, once we saw the play unfold, [Will Middlebrooks] is of no fault whatsoever. He’s just trying to be an athlete, make an athletic play, moving for the baseball, it got by him, now he’s minding his own business, laying on the ground, but the rule does clearly state, in favor of the runner, he cannot be hindered in any way moving forward to the next base, and if he is, then it’s obstruction. I think that [Cardinals slugger Allen Craig, who got entangled with Middlebrooks at third but advanced home and was credited with scoring the winning run] deserves a lot of credit because he stumbled and fell, and he continued to go towards home plate. Had he just stopped for a second, paused, maybe even walked or given up and forfeited his opportunity to advance to the next base, then the play would never have happened. But once he stumbled and fell, continued through the play, then the play is active.
“In hindsight,” Lovullo complained, “I wish the rule was changed because it didn’t favor us, but I think the umpires did get the play right.”
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