Mike Hazen on D&C: 'There's going to be an infusion of energy' if Xander Bogaerts starts in Game 5

October 17, 2013 - 5:56 am
Red Sox assistant general manager Mike Hazen joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to discuss Boston's Game 4 loss to Detroit in the American League Championship Series, as well some of the team's potential shakeups before Game 5 gets underway Thursday night. Jake Peavy, Boston's Game 4 starter, simply did not have it on Wednesday night, as the 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner only lasted three innings, surrendering seven earned runs on five hits. Hazen said that he didn't think Peavy pitched all that poorly. "The walks in the second inning were tough," Hazen said. "I actually didn't think he threw the ball all that poorly. I thought he just missed down and continued to miss down. He didn't have that bounce-back where he made that adjustment to get back up a little bit higher in the strike zone, and I think that kind of undid it a little bit, both in pitch counts that inning and he had to work pretty hard just to get out of that. So, look, this guy's been good for us, and he pitched a heck of a game for us in Game 4 in Tampa, and sometimes you have those starts here and there, but by and large, this guy's been a pretty big contributor for us." Hazen said that he couldn't say whether Xander Bogaerts would get the start in Game 5 over Stephen Drew or Will Middlebrooks, but he acknowledged that the addition of Bogaerts could have a positive impact on the lineup. The left side of the Sox infield has struggled throughout the series, as Drew and Middlebrooks have a combined batting average of .087 over the first four games. Neither player has scored nor knocked in a run during the series. "I can't guess on that. I think John [Farrell]  will make that decision later on today," Hazen said. "I think if this guy does get into the lineup, there's going to be an infusion of energy. We've seen a couple of really, really good at-bats during the postseason. He's obviously a talented kid. I think John is looking for ways to continue to spark the offense." Hazen added that he doesn't believe the 21-year-old Bogaerts would be overwhelmed under the bright lights of postseason baseball. "No, not at all. Not at all," Hazen said. "From everyone that's been thrown at this guy, and look, I'm going to grant you, playoff baseball, ALCS, Games 5, 6 and 7 are something nobody has experience with with this guy by and large. We're throwing this guy, relatively speaking, into some tougher situation, given his age, given his experience level. I think the [World Baseball Classic] was ... a big help in a lot of ways. I think, yeah, not the same stage, but going out and playing in Japan against very experienced players in a slightly bigger stage and he'll get to play on both national television as well as in front of bigger crowds. ... He's never shown us any ounce of fear in these types of scenarios, both anything through his developmental path, but also, I think, more illuminating, during some of the at-bats he's had in these spots. "Do you remember the spot in Tampa Bay, we were in a tough spot there. That game was very much in doubt at that point of the game and it didn't really change the way he went about it. ... The one in Tampa Bay was unbelievable, given the situation we were in." Following are more highlights from the conversation. To listen to the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox. On whether lineup shakeups really work during a playoff series: "I think over the course of a long season, we talk about this a lot --it's not so much the lineup order, it's the lineup construction. ... I think over the course of a regular season, I think there's not that much to it. I think anytime you get into the playoffs, anytime that I've experienced this situation. ... Every little thing matters in these types of situations. Every psychological advantage, with regard to how guys are feeling, how they're viewing themselves, are you taking pressure off of them, are they putting more pressure on themselves to be able to go out and perform. ... In these types of situations, I do think that it can have a little bit of an advantage." On whether putting Bogaerts into the Sox lineup over Drew would give Boston too many right-handed hitters in the batting order: "I think that there would probably be a chance of that, being a little too right-handed. I think we still have to keep in mind that, like I said, the little things matter. ... But I don't know, I think John is going to make the decision to put them in the game or put them in the lineup. ... Not necessarily to jump-start the offense, but to add a little bit of energy. ... I think there's a chance that that could become, but I also think if you look at it, John inserted [Jonny] Gomes for [Daniel] Nava against [Justin] Verlander, and I thought Jonny had unbelievable at bats in that game, even though it was again making us a little bit more right handed." On the importance of home-field advantage now that the ALCS is a best-of-three series: "Yeah, we sort of felt that way the entire time. I think that's why you saw us play the way we did, the lineups you saw, even though we clinched the American League East. We knew this was going to become a factor, it always does in these types of situations. ... When you run into teams, you get into the Final Four, you get into some of the best teams in baseball, and I think Detroit is certainly one of those teams. You know, more often than not, the two ALCS that I've been involved with both have gone to seven games. ... I think that home-field advantage was something that we had always kept in the back of our mind, knowing it was going to become important, and now it's going to be."