Red Sox notes: John Farrell on potential Yankees retaliation for A-Rod; no word on who leaves rotation; shifting roles for Allen Webster, Brandon Workman

September 05, 2013 - 2:59 pm

NEW YORK -- With the Red Sox and Yankees primed to meet on Thursday for the first time since Ryan Dempster hit Alex Rodriguez with a pitch at Fenway Park on August 18, the question of whether or not the Yankees might retaliate and drill a member of the Red Sox has become a prominent topic in New York. As of Thursday afternoon, however, Sox manager John Farrell said that there had been no conversation with the Sox by either league officials or umpires about the possibility of the two sides being in a state of high alert. "We haven't heard anything to date leading into the series. If something is said at home plate, we'll find that out right prior to gametime," Farrell said about two hours before the scheduled first pitch. "But no, there's been nothing said to our players or our team with the potential of what you just outlined."  But what if the Yankees do appear to drill a member of the Red Sox intentionally? The manager's response was intentionally vague. "If there is to be retaliation, I don't think there will be ... but you never know," said Farrell. "This game will find a way to take care of itself. If that's to be the case, we'll play the game." Dempster will not be pitching in this series. In a conversation with a group of reporters, the veteran didn't have much to say about the incident or it's aftermath. '€œWe'€™re talking about a start a long time ago. You'€™re going to have games where you don'€™t pitch as well as you want to and that was the case in that game. I feel like I'€™ve been throwing the ball better so I'€™m just going to continue to try to build off of that," said Dempster. '€œI'€™ve just been going about my work and getting ready for my next start after my next start and just trying to be as prepared as I can and just pitch better. That'€™s been my main goal.'€ Of course, the precise date of Dempster's start is in some question. With Clay Buchholz making what is expected to be his final start of his rehab assignment in Pawtucket on Thursday, and in position to return as soon as Tuesday in Tampa Bay on normal (four days' rest), Dempster faces the possibility of being squeezed out of the rotation. Farrell acknowledged that someone would have to leave the rotation to accommodate the return of the 2013 All-Star, but said that a final decision hadn't been made about who would be moved out of a starting role. "When Clay comes back to us, it's likely he'll go back into the rotation, just for consistency of routine, all those things involved," said Farrell. "We've not met internally to say who that's going to be removed from the rotation nor have we met with the individual it would affect. We've waited just to get through tonight and to assess where he's at physically and from a fundamental standpoint and we'll go from there." (Farrell ruled out a six-man rotation, given that the Sox have each of the remaining three Mondays on the schedule as off days, as well as an off-day on the final Thursday (Sept. 26) of the regular season.) For his part, Dempster said that, to the best of his knowledge, he will make his next start on turn next Tuesday against the Rays. "As far as I know I'€™m pitching on Tuesday, I think," he said. RED SOX NOTES -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia is making progress in his efforts to recover from the lower back discomfort that has now kept him out of the lineup for the last three games. Farrell said that the catcher is expected to play at some point during the four-game set in New York. "We expected him to be in the lineup sometime in this series. He's getting better with daily treatment. He still has some other functional activity and testing to go through but he went out and threw today, so some of the rotational stuff is not as hindering as it was just a couple of days ago," said Farrell. "We do expect him back on the field this weekend." With Saltalamacchia out, Ryan Lavarnway will start, a decision reached both because the Sox didn't want to overwork David Ross (who has yet to start more than two consecutive days since his return from a concussion) and because, with Yankees starter Ivan Nova featuring a sharp breaking ball that can be tough on right-handed hitters, the Sox felt that Lavarnway (who shows less extreme splits than his colleague) was the better choice for Thursday. With left-hander Andy Pettitte on the mound on Friday, Ross would appear likely to return to the lineup.  -- Right-hander Allen Webster made his first bullpen appearance of 2013 on Wednesday, tossing a scoreless inning for Pawtucket. He will pitch out of the bullpen for the remainder of the year (not beyond, as Farrell clarified), with the pitcher in line to join the big league bullpen after getting at least one more opportunity for exposure to that role with Pawtucket, representing what Farrell described as "the potential of another power arm that we'll take a look [at] in the bullpen and see where it goes the remainder of this month." -- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington was asked what differentiates this team from the group that collapsed in 2011. "Different group of people. I don't think, it's not anything that anybody within the Red Sox is talking about," said Cherington. "Again, going back to what [Farrell] and the staff created as the focus coming out of spring training, and that'€™s still there. Today we're playing the Yankees. We're playing a good team tonight and getting ready to play tonight." -- Right now, Brandon Workman represents a very flexible asset for the Sox, both in the number of potential roles he can play in the immediate term out of the bullpen (long relief or single-batter, high-leverage stints as when he retired Miguel Cabrera on Tuesday) or in the longer-term, where he could fit into the Sox' plans as either a starter or reliever. "We fully believe he can be a starting pitcher. Obviously the need right now is in the pen. We'll reassess that in the offseason and going into spring training," said Cherington. "We know he's capable of being a starting pitcher. We'll see what happens there. "I think he's proven he can do both, and that'€™s great," added the GM. "We'll see in the offseason and spring training what comes. Right now he's obviously in the pen and we're relying on him there. We'll see what happens down the road. We haven't talked to him."