BOSTON -- On Friday, the eve of Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, the Red Sox focused most on first baseman Mitch Moreland, who got in a full workout to test the right hamstring he injured six days earlier in Game 2 of the Division Series against the
BOSTON -- On Friday, the eve of Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, the Red Sox focused most on first baseman Mitch Moreland, who got in a full workout to test the right hamstring he injured six days earlier in Game 2 of the Division Series against the Yankees.
Rosters must be submitted to MLB by Saturday morning. Moreland was encouraged by Friday's events, which included running the bases.
He is confident that he is healthy enough to be on the roster.
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"Yeah, obviously it's something I'm going to have to be aware of, be smart with," Moreland said. "If I get the opportunity, I think I can be ready."
The Red Sox are deep at first base, with Brock Holt, Steve Pearce and Blake Swihart fully capable of playing the position.
That could allow the club to give Moreland a more supplemental role -- at least in the first couple of games in the series as he gets his feet back under him. Even if he isn't starting, Moreland could be valuable pinch-hitting against righties or serving as a late-inning replacement at first.
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"Yeah, I can't answer that one," Moreland said. "That's not really my field. It's more just trying to go out and be ready the best I can. Obviously I had something go on, so I'm just trying to get it right and be ready when my number is called."
Friday went exactly as Moreland hoped.
"It went good," Moreland said. "Obviously, I had [turf shoes] on. They just wanted me to feel it out there at first and pick it up as I went. The last one [on the bases], I did a little more effort level. Got on it, 60, 70, 80 percent, right in that range, and I hadn't felt it at all. It's constantly getting better day in and day out, so we're on the right track."
When will Moreland be able to run at full speed?
"Regular speed probably won't be until November-December," Moreland said. "But yeah, if I'm smart with it, I can get where I need to be."
Betts versus Maldonado
One of the more interesting matchups of the series should be the fast legs of Mookie Betts against the cannon arm of Astros catcher Martin Maldonado. Betts was 30-for-36 in stolen-base attempts this season, while Maldonado threw out 17 of the 35 runners who tried to run on him.
"He's got one of the best arms, if not the best arm," Betts said. "He's a great catcher back there. But I think it's just one of those things where we have to continue to do whatever we do to win the game. I mean, that's all you can do. You have to respect him. But we're good, too, and we'll find a way to get it done."
Red Sox manager Alex Cora has been aggressive with the running game all season. Boston finished third in MLB in the regular season with 125 stolen bases. Boston stole five more in the AL Division Series. Only the Dodgers stole more often among the eight teams who played in a Division Series.
"I do believe they made an adjustment because of who they were thinking they were going to play in October, and that's Martin Maldonado," Cora said. "I didn't see that coming, knowing that Brian [McCann] was going to be healthy and [Max] Stassi was playing great.
"But that's what they do. They think ahead, and you've got the Indians leading the league in stolen bases. You've got us playing the way we're playing. So they decided to go to one of the best defensive catchers in the league, and he's been outstanding. And that's the difference."
J.D. not taking rematch personally
Sure, it would make a great storyline for J.D. Martinez to be burning with desire to crush Houston in the ALCS as payback for releasing him during Spring Training 2014.
But Martinez holds no ill will toward the Astros. The reason he wants to beat them is based solely on his desire to get to the World Series for the first time in his career.
"I think my failures in Houston are what made me who I am. I think it's given me that drive to keep working, because you never know what can happen," Martinez said. "As far as it being Houston, no [added motivation], really. I mean, I learned a lot from Houston. And you know what? It made me who I am, and there's really no animosity there. In a sense, they did me a favor by allowing me to leave and going to play on another team. And if it wasn't for that, I probably wouldn't be here right now. Who knows where I would have been?"
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.