Farrell being cautious with pitching staff preparation

Farrell being cautious with pitching staff preparation
February 15, 2014, 3:30 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- En route to winning their third World Series since 2004, the Red Sox played nearly into November last fall. This spring, accommodations will be made with the team's veteran pitchers to reflect that heavy post-season workload.
     
"Spring training is always about pitching," said John Farrell on the day pitchers and catchers reported to camp, "and getting not only our rotation in order but to make sure they've had ample outings and opportunities to build up for the start of the season."
     
Farrell noted that, typically, starters get a half-dozen starts in Grapefruit League contests. But thanks to the long post-season, the manager envisioned at least three starters -- Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and John Lackey -- would likely be limited to five outings.
     
The plan calls for the three to be skipped the first time through the spring rotation, allowing them to get ready for their exhibition debuts "while keeping them on a five-day rotation . . . We've got to focus on what the individual needs are for our pitchers and make sure that we take the necessary steps to get them ready not only for Opening Day and beyond but take into account the added workload."
     
Some allowances will have to be made for members of the bullpen, too, who shouldered similarly heavy workloads last October.
     
Closer Koji Uehara and set-up relievers Junichi Tazawa and Craig Breslow will be closely monitored.
     
"We feel like we've got a framework in place that takes into account the year we come off of," said Farrell, "and the added month of pitching and yet, at the same time, not be complacent that once March 31 rolls around that everything will be in order.
     
"We've got work to do, but we've got to balance some things as well . . . You can't not have guys go the mound. There's a certain amount of work and number of pitches that need to be thrown for the start of the year, but you play closer attention (to possible) fatigue, added stress in certain spots. Those are all things you closely monitor."
     
Farrell noted that only John Lackey -- who missed all of 2012 following Tommy John surgery -- was the only starter who saw a big increase in his innings total in 2013, compared to the previous season.