Friday, December 6, 2013
BOSTON - The Red Sox get back to work Tuesday. They've still got three days to go until they play a game, but they will hold a workout Tuesday afternoon at Fenway Park.
Tuesday they will hold an intrasquad scrimmage in an effort to break up their practice week with some action in a game setting. The biggest goal over these few days is to avoid getting rusty.
You know you've had a good season when your biggest concern is how to manage rest leading up to the playoffs. And it has been a very good season for the Red Sox.
That doesn't mean they'll be sitting around twiddling their thumbs on 4 Yawkey Way. There are still some difficult decision to make, and some things to think about this week if you are a Sox fan:
The Red Sox never lost more than three straight games this season, a testament to the depth of their starting rotation.
They have already moved Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront to the bullpen, so we know who the four pitchers will be for the ALDS. What we don't know is what order they will pitch in.
If you lined them up with the best pitcher at the top, you'd have to go with Clay Buchholz first, followed by Jon Lester. Or vice versa.
But John Lackey's ERA is two runs lower at Fenway Park than on the road, so it would seem pretty clear Lackey will get one of the first two games at home.
So Buchholz may have to wait for Game 3, which would be at a stadium to be determined Wednesday night. And that works, because he has pitched better away from Fenway Park.
So look for Lester in Game 1. Unless Manager John Farrell wants to put the lefty in between two righties. In which case Lackey may get the opener. Either way, Jake Peavy will be a pretty strong Game 4 starter.
Dempster and Doubront have been added to the relief options for Farrell. Koji Uehara is the closer. The key setup men will be Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow and Brandon Workman. From there Farrell will have to take two lefties from a group of Matt Thornton, Franklin Morales, and Drake Britton.
The decision on how many lefties will be dictated by who the Sox are facing. But we won't know that until the wild-card winner is decided Wednesday.
Final decisions will be made pretty quickly after that.
There aren't too many decisions to make here. The Red Sox have had great depth all season long, and already have players like Daniel Nava, Mike Carp and David Ross to add options off the bench.
The final choice (or two) will come from the likes of Quentin Berry, Xander Bogaerts and John McDonald.
Berry will get the inside track for a spot on the 25-man playoff roster. He might be the best pinch runner in baseball right now, a true speedster who has never been thrown out in 23 career stolen-base attempts.
By Friday, we'll be caught up in the daily drama of the playoffs, a ride we haven't boarded since 2009.
Between now and then there's time to ponder what will transpire in those games -- and who will be on the field to make things happen.
Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.