Q. Can you talk about the Rays. And what are their strengths and weaknesses?
JOHN FARRELL: Well, first of all they come in playing a very good brand of baseball, consistent with what we've experienced against them, strong starting pitching, very good defense. They have a way of some timely hitting with an improved offense this year over recent years.
We do have familiarity of 19 regular season games against them this year. This should be an exciting series.
Q. With lefties in the first two games for Tampa Bay, how do you envision your lineup, mixing some of your other right handed guys?
JOHN FARRELL: Yeah, I think obviously Jonny Gomes will be in leftfield. We'll do some things behind the plate probably to split the two games up. And David Ross's involvement will certainly be in one of these first two games.
But I like the fact that in a July series in here where Moore and Price were dominant against us, towards the middle of that second half and beyond, we fared very well against left handed starters. We know we're going up against a very good starting rotation, led off by the two left handers, Price and Moore.
But probably pretty consistent with what we've seen against left handed starters. What our lineup has been will be reflected tomorrow. So we're looking forward to getting things started.
Q. Do you have any finalization of your roster?
JOHN FARRELL: That will be put out tomorrow at the deadline.
Q. You mentioned Johnny Gomes, what has he brought to this club just on and off the field?
JOHN FARRELL: Well, on the field he's a fierce competitor, one who has a knack for the key moment, whether it's late in the ballgame or a pivotal time with a rally offensively for us.
I think the one thing he's demonstrated is probably more efficiency on the defensive side of things, particularly in this ballpark. He's played leftfield here very well for us. But as far as what he's added to our clubhouse, it's been a grit, it's been a smart player, and one that I think a lot of other guys draw a lot of confidence from him because the way he plays the game, the way he talks about it. And seemingly he's in the center of things that we've done off the field, whether it's in response to the marathon tragedy here or things that our group does off the field; whether it's a high number of players going to a team dinner. Johnny is right in the middle of the party.
Q. You hinted that David would be behind the plate in one of those two, since you're facing left handers in both. Does it come down to comfort and familiarity with either Lester or Lackey? And can you speak to how David might have worked with either one of those over the course of this season?
JOHN FARRELL: He's worked well with both guys. So there's going to be a few things that come into play; who he's catching, who he's facing, and how that matchup might best serve us as a team.
Q. Maybe this is an awkward question for you to answer personally, but as manager of a team that had a remarkable turnaround and swapped managers, this being your first year, what have you tried to do in coming in here? Obviously the team was remade to a degree, but what have you tried to either instill or the way you've run this team or what kind of stamp have you put on this?
JOHN FARRELL: Well, I think the biggest change is what Ben did to the roster. Nine new names before the first game was played, either through free agency or trade. So the roster went through a major overhaul.
But as far as what we set out to do was to make the game every night the focal point. And I know that's a very simplistic approach, but if our energies and our focus was geared towards that, I felt like everything else would fall into place. And I think it's allowed us to separate ourselves from maybe the day before or series before where things might not have worked out well. It guided our preparation, and I think that's one of the reasons we've been so consistent.
Q. Can you talk about Longoria and how the Red Sox go about trying to pitch him.
JOHN FARRELL: Well, our pitching plan is going to be dependent on reading swings and understanding how he's addressed the previous pitch. That can be said for any hitter in their lineup. He comes in here swinging the bat very well. The one thing he's done throughout the month of September and certainly the postseason is he's driven the ball in right field a little more consistently.
He's a very, very good player. And seemingly in those key moments he's come up with some big hits. So anytime we focus on one given player, it's not so much that particular guy, it's what we do with the guys ahead of him in the order. And if we can minimize the opportunities when he comes to the plate, we might put ourselves in a decent position.
Q. Knowing how badly Jon Lester wanted to get back on track this season and how hard he worked to get there, how impressed have you been with his body of work from day one, and again starting tomorrow night?
JOHN FARRELL: The body of work compares pretty consistently to whether it was '08, '09 or '10. One of the top starting pitchers in the league. He's done a great job of righting his own ship, so to speak, after a late May, early June stretch of starts where things didn't work out as well. He finished this year extremely strong, powerful, with good performance and we're looking at him to lead the way here in October.
Q. John, at the time you were hired, you mentioned the roster overhaul, that hadn't happened yet. What were your thoughts on the state of the Red Sox roster? How much certainty did you have about what you were, in fact, going to be inheriting, both in terms of the returning core and knowing where the Red Sox were going?
JOHN FARRELL: The returning core is one that was talented. And health was a main component in getting back the production of guys had shown previously. Whether it was Jacoby, Dustin, David, that list is pretty long. But the core that was returning were talented. And knowing through the conversations with Ben what his vision was, and the type of plan that was brought in here has come to life, and everything he set out to do in terms of player acquisition has not only matched the group as a whole, but I think has embraced everything that Boston has to offer, whether that's the challenge of this market, what people in this ballpark expect every night. And we've been able to answer that call.
Q. Are you happy with the amount of work you've been able to do over the past four days? Are you also happy with the rest that your injured players have received and how they may respond to that?
JOHN FARRELL: Well, we'll see that starting tomorrow how they respond.
As far as what we're able to outline in the three days of work, yeah, we've been able to get everything accomplished that we had hoped. That includes a good number of pitchers that got to the mound yesterday, our regular players getting to see live pitching. We can't replicate the environment of the games that we've seen on TV certainly will generate.
So many people have said, well, what is this four day off period going to do? And I don't think we can compare it against series of the past, where one series has already been completed and there's this anticipation, is it today we play or the following day? We knew going in it was going to be Friday. And we could gear everything toward that from our on field work and certainly our mental approach towards tomorrow being the first game. I think we're primed and ready to go.
Q. You had a certain level of expectation for this team coming into the season. Was there a point in the year where you felt this was a championship type team?
JOHN FARRELL: Again, I go back to knowing that the first indication that this is a special group, first started to emerge in Spring Training. But it was in that day after the bombing here that there was some things that came out that indicated that this was a team that got off to a good start, but then had a chance to do something special. And it wasn't because of something that took place in between the lines. It was something that we responded to and how we kind of reached out in other ways than we typically would do on the field.
This is a team that on paper was a talented club. I felt like we would score runs in Spring Training. Pitching was something that we had to make adjustments with and get some guys back on track. And typically with any team, as the year unfolds, things evolve. And this team's unity, the tightness, the tight group that they have, the willingness to have one another's back, in support of one another. That continued to grow throughout the year.
Q. Tampa Bay has hit better this year, but they traditionally have been known to do some small ball things. How do you feel your team has responded? What's your comfort level with how your team has executed when teams have tried to do that against you?
JOHN FARRELL: Because we use that in our offensive approach, I think the guys are aware of it, what the defensive side's responsibility is. Again, the amount of conversation, the amount of prep work that we do, what we try to execute on the field, our guys will be prepared for that. Again, familiarity of 19 games helps in this way with their tendencies, but it's going to come down how that starting pitcher executes. That's what will set the tone for each game.
Q. You were here in Boston when the market was a little spoiled; the Red Sox were assumed to be in the playoffs every year. It's taken a while to get back. You've been on all sides of this. Do you think your players, some of the ones that were here earlier and have come here, do you think they appreciate how special and rare this is?
JOHN FARRELL: For those that have come here this winter?
Q. And the guys who were here, when it happened every year.
JOHN FARRELL: This was part of the mindset at the end of last year, a strong desire to rewrite what took place. There was embarrassment that was shared by those who remained or that had been here. And I think when you think of Johnny Gomes or Shane Victorino, David Ross, all the guys that have signed here or traded for, they felt this was a rare and unique opportunity to come in here and put Boston back on the baseball map that might have not been there the last three or four years.
So to a man this was the mindset in Spring Training, to get back to the level that's been accustomed here in Boston.
Q. How important is Middlebrooks to what you're trying to do in the series? Do you think you're at the point with him that you know what to expect from him offensively?
JOHN FARRELL: He's shown the ability to be streaky. And when he's in those upticks, it really lengthens our lineup. He's got the ability to drive the ball out of the ballpark in all fields. And when he's in that, our lineup is deep. It's powerful. So, yeah, I think there's since coming back this second time this season, he's had a little bit of ups and downs. But, again, I think we're more aware of what we're going to get from him.
I will tell you that going up against left handed starters, we're going to need him.
Q. You've had a lot of great games and moments against the Rays this year and dating back to '08. What stands out to you about the Rays Red Sox rivalry?
JOHN FARRELL: Likely to be well pitched, typically low scoring, and there's going to be a play, a defensive play inside of a game that will be a swing moment.
We have the utmost respect for them. It's a very strong pitching and defensive organization. We'll have our hands full. And how we control the tempo from the mound will be key.
End of FastScripts