Farrell in full preparation mode

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Farrell in full preparation mode

BOSTON Before leaving for Nashville and the winter meetings, which begin Monday, Red Sox manager John Farrell addressed several issues his new team faces this offseason.

On the addition of outfielder Jonny Gomes:

FARRELL: Hes a known team guy and characteristics that were making an emphasis on placing. Obviously hes got a lot of talent and has performed exceptionally well against left-handed pitching. By the fact that he has that reputation around the game and what were looking to add a greater number of in our clubhouse, with the overall emphasis that this is a team.

Has he learned the importance of having high-character guys on his team from his two years managing the Blue Jays?

FARRELL: Its important to have good players and its important to have teams or players that buy into a team concept. And thats not to say that that wasnt the case elsewhere. But I think for us to achieve the level that were looking to, thats a main component of it.

Does he see Gomes as an everyday player or as more of a platoon player?

FARRELL: Well probably take a look at matchups as we get into that. But to say that hes strictly a platoon player I dont think that were saying that. Hell have an opportunity to earn the highest number of at-bats he can. We certainly don't want to limit him in any way.

Until seeing him more regularly in spring training I dont know that I can say how that might affect the lineup, situations late in the game with a lead. I know one thing, talking with Jonny its very apparent hes going to work to great lengths to address any limitations he may have. Whether thats offensively, defensively. Thats the type of guy that he is and has contributed to a winning cause with the number of places hes played.

Has Farrell been involved in the Sox recruitment of free agents?

FARRELL: To varying degrees. That's probably more related to where we are in certain stages with individual guys. I certainly anticipate that being the case going forward.

Is it important for a team to have high-profile players to be successful in the big leagues?

FARRELL: You're never going to not want to take talented players. But more important to that is the success of the team has got that team concept and buy-in. And that's not only an area that's not only being talked about with players that have been here, but what we're looking to add to it. So how we work collectively, and how we work together and how we compete together, you can have a group of individuals but if there's no common thread or common purpose, I think that's just going to make the challenge more difficult.

In naming Victor Rodriguez assistant hitting coach on Friday, Farrell completed his coaching staff:

FARRELL: Well, one, the concept that I felt was important with the two-man hitting coach system because the amount of work both from a time allotment in the cage and the amount of video work, I feel like it is a two-man position. But Victor does have a lot of relationships with guys on this club and certainly throughout the system, and for whoever the lead hitting coach was coming in, once we named that person, Victor was a very easy match to that to give a lot of background information and to be able to contribute in his own right. Victors going to be a very strong addition to this staff.

The coaching staff, along with some front office members, advance scouts, and other personnel, will convene on Friday and Saturday at the teams spring training complex in Fort Myers.

FARRELL: With the exception of bullpen coach Gary Tuck, first base coach Arnie Beyeler, and Victor, weve never laid eyes on that complex. And to have some understanding of it, to begin to plan spring training, so when we start there's no hidden element to this. So I think this will give us a leg up on planning spring training.theres a number of firsts that well get out of the way in these two days.

He will have several coaches on his staff in roles theyve never had on major league staffs:

FARRELL: Really with the exception of hitting coach Greg Colbrunn, who we really havent crossed paths all that much in our pro careers, it speaks to the familiarity with the people and the strong belief that theyll be able to perform exceptionally well in the roles that theyre moving into, and I say that with utmost confidence.

Has he talked with all his players yet?

FARRELL: Not 100 percent. I havent spoken to Mauro Gomez. So Im getting through it. Theres been multiple conversations with other guys. But still working through even the additions to the roster, with the six guys who were added just recently. So its getting to that point.

Does he plan to visit with any players?

FARRELL: I havent ruled it out but Ive been back and forth from here quite a bit. So staff being completed is a good thing because I feel very good about the group. But well see.

Addressing recent trade rumors with Jon Lester?

FARRELL: You take the temperature of their reaction, of what could initially be there. And I know Jon in his own words, wants to prove a number of people wrong. And I said, before we go that far, look at it as a positive, that you're a good player. Teams inquire about good players all the time. You can't change the opinion of others by what you do right now. You can by performing to your capabilities, and that's where our focus has to be.

He's a Red Sock. I think any time that first rumor gets out there, it can be a little startling for guys. But I know one thing: He's extremely motivated and he's working his tail off right now to have a very strong year.

Yeah, clearly its easier to have that conversation since they know each other. You get an understanding through that course of time how they respond to certain things, how their minds work and you can, instead of a feeling out, you can be a little bit more direct in certain cases when it might call for it.

Hes had similar conversations with catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway after the addition of David Ross.

FARRELL: Yeah, I think it's important to communicate to guys what the thought is, and this is a starting point. Certainly not the end come April 1.

On the possibility of the Sox trading one of their top starting pitchers:

FARRELL: Anything is a possibility, but I think until we get there, Im planning for everyone thats on the roster right now to be here. So we have some work to do to get guys back to the levels they performed to before, and that's where the focus is right now.

Has he talked with Lavarnway about possibly moving to first base?

FARRELL: We haven't had those discussions, because there is so much focus and emphasis on his development as a catcher, that's where the focus continues to be. With his offensive production as a catcher, he starts to put himself in a small group. There's ongoing maintenance and work to be done there, but no that's where the focus is.

Has he talked to right-hander Alfredo Aceves yet?

FARRELL: Briefly. We've had some brief conversations, a number of messages left. Colorful. He's a talented pitcher. And he can do some things in the game that he may be the only guy who can do them. With the frequency in which he can pitch, to the number of pitches thrown, he's a talented guy.

I think from my standpoint, the approach taken is to be candid with him, to be consistent with him, both in terms of what we value in guys approach, but as best can be communicated to him in his role. And that will evolve going forward, but I think the most important thing is for him to understand where he sits with us, how we view him, and what his role is, and then he can best prepare for that.

Not definitively determined his role yet. We certainly feel like his frequency of his availability as a reliever is a major asset.

How does he view left-hander Franklin Morales role coming into spring training?

FARRELL: Our plan is to have him come in and prepare as a starter. You can always go back the other way, obviously more readily than trying to lengthen out toward the end of camp. But what he did in the rotation last year for the time he was there was very impressive. Not to say how our rotation is going to look come spring training, but he did a good job in that role.

Would he like to have more depth at shortstop:

FARRELL: That's a conversation that's ongoing. It's Dec. 1 and I know the winter meetings are starting and the markets taking shape and things will start falling into place, but that's all part of a number of moving parts.

His thoughts on Pedro Ciriaco:

FARRELL: When you consider that he was a minor league free agent, thats a darn good player. Athletic, can do a number of things. I know there was an attempt to put him in center field, which when you look at a player with his skill set, that's a natural thing. Hey, if he can play center field, boy, then his value really starts to increase.But good first-step quickness, plenty of arm strength to play anywhere on the field, he was, I don't want to say a great find, but he was a heck of an addition when you consider how he came to the big leagues through that path. A lot of value there.

How eager is he to have his full roster?

FARRELL: As much as everybody else that follows the Red Sox. General manager Ben Cherington is going to put together a damn good roster, and Im fully confident in that.

Bergeron and Marchand convinced Backes to join Bruins

Bergeron and Marchand convinced Backes to join Bruins

JAMAICA PLAIN -- For those excited about the idea of an intense, hard-hitting David Backes in a Bruins uniform for the next five years, you have Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand to partially thank.

Backes, 32, didn’t know either of them all that well prior to this summer, aside from his experiences on ice against them. But Bergeron and Marchand called Backes multiple times while recruiting him to Boston, and it was a major factor in the former Blues captain signing a five-year, $30 million deal with the B's.

“Being an outsider, we need to have a little bit of confession here that Marchand is the kind of guy that gets under everybody’s skin. I was no different,” said the 6-foot-3, 221-pound Backes, who has 206 goals and 460 points in 727 career NHL games, all with St. Louis. “But then talking to him a little bit in the interview process prior to July 1, I hung up the phone and had to take a deep breath and say to myself, ‘That little disturber, he’s actually a pretty good guy.’ Those guys end up being the best teammates.

“A guy like Bergeron, when you play against him [he's] always in the right spot, and is never making mistakes. Those types of guys, again, are guys you want on your team, and guys you want to go to war with. They’re All-World players, Bergeron is an All-World player. But he’s also a down-to-earth guy that puts his work boots on, takes his lunch pail and plays his butt off. He’s nice to the young kids, and he’s nurturing in helping them come along. I think you’ve seen in the NHL that you need a few guys on entry-level deals, or a few guys to outperform their contracts, in order to have success in the salary-cap era. That nurturing and mentorship can really foster those kinds of performances.”

While Backes went on to mention Zdeno Chara as another highly respected, formidable opponent with whom he’ll now share a dressing room, it was interesting to note that players who currently have letters on their sweaters, like Chara and David Krejci, didn’t play a part in the recruiting process. Instead it was the next captain of the team (Bergeron) and a player (Marchand) currently in the middle of negotiations entering the last year of his contract.

“I talked to both Bergeron and Marchand twice before July 1," said Backes. "Just the way that they spoke about their team mentality, and teaming up together and sharing the load of hard minutes that need to be played, and also sharing the load of the offensive necessities that a team has . . . those things just rang true to my beliefs of a team.

“You’re all equals whether you’re the top-paid guy, or the top-minute guy, or the low-minute guy, or the guy that’s playing every other game because you’re the healthy scratch in the other games.

“We all needed to be treated equal, and do whatever we can to support the next guy. When the next guy has success, we have to be just as happy as if we scored the goal. That’s the type of thing where, when you get that from the full 20 guys on the ice, it’s so tough to be beat. Those are the teams that win championships.”

It will be interesting to see just how much involvement Backes has with the Bergeron and Marchand combination. He could very easily be a right-wing fit with those two dynamic forwards next season, or he could be a third-line center behind Bergeron and Krejci and give the Bruins elite depth down the middle of the ice.

True to his team-oriented nature, Backes said he’ll be happy to play at either position and do whatever Claude Julien feels is best.

First impressions: Detroit Tigers 4, Boston Red Sox 3

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First impressions: Detroit Tigers 4, Boston Red Sox 3

BOSTON -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Detroit on Wednesday afternoon:

1) Eduardo Rodriguez pitched pretty well, but not well -- or deep -- enough.

Rodriguez has now made three starts since coming back from Pawtucket and any one of them was better than his starts from earlier this year.

He's no longer tipping his pitches, he's commanding better in general and his fastball has been more powerful.

But he's also giving up a lot of hits (19 in 18 innings) and he's gotten through the sixth inning just once in his three outings. For a team short in its bullpen, that's leaving a big workload for the relievers.

2) The late-inning comebacks have been in short supply.

Yes,  the Red Sox have scored runs by the boatload at times. And yes, they've mostly played hard this season.

But before Wednesday, the Sox had been just 3-35 when trailing after seven innings and they had enjoyed only two walkoff wins all season.

Those numbers can be misleading, of course. Teams can dig out from early holes -- as the Red Sox did Tuesday night.

But the ninth-inning rallies haven't happened much. In fact, on the current home stand, the Sox have had the top-to-middle part of the order up in the bottom of the ninth -- with David Ortiz getting an at-bat each time -- on four separate occasions, trailing by a run or two, and couldn't produce a winning rally.

3) Clay Buchholz may be pitching himself out of the doghouse

After going weeks -- literally --between appearances, Buchholz has been called upon four times in the last seven games.

Granted, in most of those games, the Red Sox have been trailing. But the games were such that they were still within reach, contradicting John Farrell's remarks late last week when he broadly hinted that he didn't trust Buchholz in games that were close.

Slowly, however, Buchholz could be earning some trust coming out of the bullpen. He had a perfect inning Wednesday with the Sox trailing by a run at the time.