John Farrell

John Farrell on D&H: 'No one is more conscious and aware of [Mike Napoli's struggles] than Mike Napoli'

June 24, 2015 - 1:06 pm
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Manager John Farrell made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday before the second game of the Red Sox' three-game series with the Orioles. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page. The Sox' lineup for the middle game of the series remains largely the same as it was Tuesday evening with two exceptions. Alejandro De Aza will be in right field while Brock Holt takes over Mike Napoli's spot at first base. Napoli finished Tuesday's game with four strikeouts in as many at-bats, prolonging his recent slump. Farrell said it's definitely not for lack of trying. "[Tuesday] there was some swing and miss to some fastballs that ended up and in in a pitcher's count," he said. "There was the ability by [Ubaldo] Jimenez last night to expand with some split-finger, some sliders down and away that resulted in some chase and some swing and miss. "No one is more conscious and aware of it than Mike Napoli. If you saw the number of workouts, the number of trips to the cage, the number of sit-down meetings with, whether it's with [hitting coach Chili Davis], [assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez], others on the staff, to try to work through this, he's seeking the answer. And with the exception of that one stretch when the Angels were in town where he pretty much carried us for a 7-10-day stretch, it's been a grind for him. "And after a very strong spring training, Mike would probably be the one to tell you this isn't what he anticipated, but then if you look back probably four years ago, he had a year very similar to the one he's having now where there's power there, the high number of strikeouts come with that power, but we're trying to gain some consistency with him as well." The Red Sox also are looking for consistency in the rotation. While some pitchers have continued to improve as the season goes along, others have continued to run into trouble, which makes it difficult for Boston to really get going even with the offense excelling recently. "When you point to where we are as a team right now, and to get onto a sustained roll, it's going to require some consistency out of those five guys just to give our offense a chance to get on a roll each and every night," Farrell said. "We're swinging the bat much better this month. I believe we're leading the American League in extra-base hits, and I do believe hits in general, but still we've had some turns through the rotation where it's been consistent, and yet for one or two of those slots another turn through, it's been a little bit of a rocky road." Farrell said there's no official word on whether Joe Kelly is out of the rotation following his Tuesday start of five earned runs in 3 2/3 innings, but that Kelly and fellow pitcher Rick Porcello still are looking to get into a rhythm of reliability. For Porcello specifically, Farrell said the dilemma has been consistency within the strike zone. "Last time out for Rick, and seemingly over the past half-dozen times, it's been the big inning," he said. "I think at times he's gotten away from a game plan that's really been successful up to that point in the game, and that's where you go through reviews, you take trips to the mound, you give reminders, but ultimately it's being consistent for a starter with two main pitches that you've got to execute," Farrell added. "Particularly in some key spots, and what we're trying to get back to with Rick is a more consistent two-seamer, which has been his calling card pretty much the five years prior to this year in the big leagues, and that is the one that has been inconsistent for him." On the flip side, Mookie Betts has been on a bit of a tear, as he was named AL Player of the Week on Monday and has a 10-game hit streak, during which time he's slashed .538/.571/1.000 with eight RBIs and 10 extra-base hits of 21 hits total. That's quite the turnaround from the nine games prior when he went just 4-for-28. "What we're trying to do is get him on top of the baseball with a little bit more of a, I don't want to say pronounced downward stroke, but a little bit more of an effort to visualize and execute a line drive stroke," Farrell said. "That's taken over, as has his ability to handle some pitches on the outside third of the plate. His two-strike approach of late has been much more consistent where he's down in count, he's taken some base hits the other way. He's kind of shortened up his swing in those spots, and it's resulted in a young guy who's bounced back from a little bit of a downturn, but he's come back with gangbusters. "With him at the top of the order with Brock and [Dustin Pedroia] setting the table for the middle of the order, this has given us a different look and one where we're able to put some pressure on the opposition with some speed at the top of the order." Farrell also said that outfielder Rusney Castillo was sent down to Pawtucket to get everyday at-bats since he is still trying to establish himself in the majors and had been moved to a bench role. Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox. On the strike zone complaints: "Data that we have shows that the strike zone, or strikes being called, are lower and off the plate, particularly to the away zone of given hitters. We've gotten some correspondence from MLB where it suggests or states that it's the same as it was a year ago, but I think when you're always on the other end of things, you're probably going to view it as a liberal zone, more strikes being called. I thought [Tuesday night], as we're fighting back into that sixth inning, two men on, middle of the order coming, I thought the two-strike call to Brock Holt was probably two baseball widths off the plate away. They get the call, we don't, argued it, and you end up having an early night, but I think in general that the zone is lower, and it's wider than we've seen, and a lot of people within the game say there's no connection to the pace of game, which human instinct would say, 'Well, if we're trying to play quicker games, you call more strikes, keep the game moving,' but that seems to be refuted." On the Jeff Passan report about veteran Sox players thinking Hanley Ramirez isn't putting in enough effort: "Someone brought to my attention the article, and I'll say this, you spend 12 hours a day with 25 guys, there's gong to be some things that bother everybody. That's just human nature, but I think what we've seen of Hanley, he's been a very good offensive player for us, the play in left field continues to make progress, maybe a little bit slower than we had hoped initially, but I see the work ethic. I see a guy who's trying to do the best that he can at a new position." On whether the response to Pablo Sandoval's social media violation would be different if the Sox were winning: "I think the one thing we all commit to during the course of a three-hour game, you're committing to the guy next to you, you're committing to the team, and you're putting forth an effort to try to contribute to a win that night. And do things come into focus more in the situation we're in? Yeah, they certainly do, so to suggest that we'd laugh it off if we're 25 games up, I don't know that I would, because the focus is the game tonight. That's the basic message we try to give. Give everything you've got for the three hours here tonight, let's try to put together a ball game, and that takes away from it."

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