For young players, 'a breather can be helpful'

For young players, 'a breather can be helpful'
May 18, 2014, 7:30 pm
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BOSTON -- In an effort to get their struggling rookies going, the Red Sox have occasionally been giving players a day off, allowing them the chance to step back, clear their heads and perhaps pick up something from the dugout.

Outfielder Jackie Bradley sat out Saturday night and was back in the lineup Sunday in the series finale with Detroit. At the conclusion of the last homestand, Xander Bogaerts got a day, too.

"A need comes up for most every player, '' explained John Farrell, "regardless of age, where a breather can be helpful. When you look at Xander or Jackie, where the ability to sit and watch a game from the dugout can be beneficial. That's (communicated) to them prior to going into that, on things to look for -- pitching patterns, the way opposing pitchers are trying to attack our guys, what they might take from it as they put themselves in a particular situation.

"(It's a opportunity to) just see it differently and without the in-game emotion that might be attached to it.''

For young players, the games can speed up on them from time-to-time.

A night off is a chance to watch the game from a slower, more detached viewpoint.

"I think the game will speed up on any player,'' said Farrell, "regardless of age. It might happen a little more (frequently) for a guy who's less experienced. When you see some of the actions in-between the lines that might (be evidence) of a game speeding up on them emotionally, that's when you take a brief step back to let it regroup and we're hopeful that happens here.

"I think we've seen it (pay dividends) with Xander when we've held him out and hopefully Jackie will be able to benefit from that, just from a day down

Farrell noted that when players are given a day off, coaches will use the opportunity to talk with players and point out aspects of the game.

"You kind of set the stage for the game with conversations during BP,'' said Farrell, "and or prior to the game. We might say, 'Pick out a hitter or two in our lineup and take note of what they're facing or seeing at the plate themselves.' More than anything, they're able to see it a little more clearly because they have the ability to take a breather and watch the game from that vantage point.''

The help goes beyond the staff, too, with veterans offering their take and some things to look for to the younger teammates.

"That goes on everyday,'' said Farrell. "This is a supportive group. It's a group that cares for one another. Xander and Jackie have been clearly accepted by them.

"There's been a lot of advice and recommendations given to both guys as they're dealing with things for the first time. Guys are there to help to try to get them through it.''