BOSTON -- There's no one-size-fits-all formula for preparing for October.A year ago with the Astros, then-bench coach Alex Cora watched workhorse Justin Verlander throw 110 pitches in his final regular-season start while Charlie Morton dialed it back to just 64 pitches. Morton and Verlander made a combined nine October starts
BOSTON -- There's no one-size-fits-all formula for preparing for October.
A year ago with the Astros, then-bench coach Alex Cora watched workhorse Justin Verlander throw 110 pitches in his final regular-season start while Charlie Morton dialed it back to just 64 pitches. Morton and Verlander made a combined nine October starts as the Astros marched to a World Series championship.
Now as manager of the Red Sox, Cora similarly will let his pitchers decide what works best for them to prepare for the American League Division Series. He has generally taken it easy with his starters in September -- no Sox starter has thrown more than 101 pitches since Aug. 20 -- but he's prepared to let David Price, Chris Sale and Co. pitch as deep into their final starts of the regular season as they deem necessary.
"This week is more how they feel," Cora said. "We know the Wednesday one [Sale] is a big one for everybody. The other guys, like Rick Porcello probably Friday, we'll probably let him go."
Like Cora last season, Boston hitting coach Tim Hyers was on the front lines for the National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers a year ago. That experience will help inform the program Hyers designs for Red Sox hitters, who will go four days without seeing live pitching after the regular season ends.
Most Sox regulars will play two of the three games over the weekend against the Yankees, who are battling the A's for home-field advantage in the AL Wild Card Game. Rivalry or no rivalry, the Red Sox have reason to try to beat the Yankees in those three games, as they'd prefer to face an opponent just a day removed from a cross-country flight from California over an opponent making the short trip up from New York.
Cora said the Red Sox could mix some live batting practice into their workouts next week to keep their hitters sharp -- but he ruled out an occasion like the one the team hosted before their 2013 World Series run.
"I don't think we'll play, like, an intrasquad game," he said.
Bogey good to go
Xander Bogaerts was right back in the lineup on Monday night against Baltimore, one day after a sore left shoulder prompted Cora to lift him from a game in the middle of an at-bat.
Bogaerts wasn't thrilled to be removed from the game Sunday night -- "I'm good with him, but sometimes I'll be tough," Cora said -- but he didn't have to convince his manager to play him on Monday. Cora notified Bogaerts on Monday morning that he'd be on the field against the Orioles.
Brian MacPherson is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston.