Victorino out of lineup, but available for Game 5

Victorino out of lineup, but available for Game 5
October 28, 2013, 7:00 pm
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ST. LOUIS -- For the second straight game, Shane Victorino was out of the Red Sox' starting lineup with lower back stiffness. This time, however, the decision didn't come 90 minutes before gametime.

Instead, John Farrell made the call in mid-afternoon, with a caveat: Victorino was available to the Sox in-game, either to hit, play the outfield, or both, if necessary.

"Shane is much improved from [Sunday],'' said Farrell, "and probably could have started. So he's available at full capacity. The only question going into today was the duration in which he might be on the field. So rather than putting ourselves in a position where [the Sox have to take Victorino out mid-game], we can use him as our discretion.

"So he's available.''

Farrell added that he expected Victorino, with the benefit of Tuesday's day off, to be in the starting lineup for Game 6 in Boston.

* * * *

With Victorino out of the lineup, Farrell made some adjustments to his batting order.

He moved Dustin Pedroia, his usual No. 3 hitter, up to Victorino's usual spot at No. 2. In turn, David Ortiz went from cleanup to No. 3, with Jonny Gomes at cleanup and Daniel Nava fifth.

"With the change in the lineup,'' explained Farrell, "I feel like we need to lengthen out the lineup behind David. And we've made a subtle change, nothing dramatic . . .

"We haven't really put together many big innings and that's a credit to their pitching. We feel the more we can lengthen out and give ourselves chances up and down the lineup, [the better].''

* * * *

After getting into his bullpen relatively early in the previous two games, Farrell was prepared to juggle his relievers in Game 5. He said Felix Doubront, who pitched two innings in Game 3 and 2 2/3 innings in Game 4 was available "in an emergency,'' likely meaning a hitter or two at most.

Jake Peavy, scheduled to start Game 7, was in the bullpen on his throw day, just as John Lackey was in Game 4.

"Not a traditional approach,'' noted Farrell, "but we're not at a traditional time of year. I'm not eliminating anybody, with the exception of Felix, in an emergency situation.''

Farrell was still raving about the work of Doubront in Games 3 and 4. Combined, he tossed 4 2/3 innings and allowed just one run -- and that run scored after Doubront left the game.

This is the same Doubront who told Farrell and pitching coach Juan Nieves on the final weekend of the season that he wasn't sure he could contribute in the bullpen.

"He changed his mind,'' cracked Farrell. "Gosh, he's been efficient, thrown a lot of strikes. But what stands out in this environment the last two nights is just the poise and the comfort in which he's attacked the strike zone. It's been something that we desperately needed.''

Farrell traced Doubront's turnaround to accepting the role "once the postseason started. I think there might have been a little uncertainly on his part . . . trying to get his arms around what role [he'd have] and what point in time in a game [he'd be used].

"There really wasn't clarity to that. Guys were pretty much entrenched where they were. And so we just took some of that uncertainty out of his mind.''

When asked about the possibility of starting Doubront in Game 7, if one takes place, Farrell answered: "Well, everyone's going to be available in Game 7. We haven't gotten to the point of saying, 'Let's hold him out as a potential starter.' ''

Asked if he still plans to have Peavy start Game 7, Farrell responded: "Everything points to that right now."