BOSTON -- Though the Red Sox have been known for their chemistry all season long, manager John Farrell thinks it was taken to another level the day after the tragic Boston Marathon bombings.
When the Red Sox and Indians lined up along the baselines for a moment of silence on April 16 in Cleveland, Farrell could feel the way the event had galvanized his players.
"The one moment that stands out in my mind is standing on the [baseline] during the moment of silence in Cleveland following the bombing here," said Farrell. "And it wasn't so much about on field performance. We had gotten off to a good start the first two, three weeks of the season. We saw some things come out of the individuals.
"But it spoke to their understanding that they were in a special place and showed some character at a very difficult and unique time. Whether that was the galvanizing moment for this team, I can't say that. But it was a moment in time where guys showed a different side of them that this was a special group. What the performance was going to be, the total number of wins achieved, we didn't know. But there was a characteristic that showed through in that moment that was special."
As a reminder of April 15, and the impact on the community, Red Sox groundskeeper Dave Mellor mowed a huge round patch in the middle of center field that says "B STRONG" on it in preparation for Friday's Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Rays or Indians, at 3 p.m. ET on TBS..
It was Jonny Gomes and Jarrod Saltalamacchia who helped hatch the idea for the "Boston 617 Strong" uniform that has been in the dugout all season.
"You obviously play for your manager, you play for the identity of the team, and of course you play for the city that you represent," said Gomes. "You represent the Red Sox, you represent Boston. That being said, there are professionals inside here -- guys with huge hearts and heavy bats who are going to take that load. But I don't think it's our win-loss record that determines that Boston Strong that was built. I think it was almost kind of like a lifestyle, how to go about things. Fortunately for us, we're continuing to represent that."
Fans invited to watch Wednesday's intrasquad game
BOSTON -- Clay Buchholz or Jake Peavy will throw the first pitch on Wednesday at 3:07 p.m. ET from the mound at Fenway Park.
There might even be a national anthem just before that. There will be an umpire behind home plate. There will be a Boston batter in the box. There will be fans in the stands. The smell of hot dogs will be in the air.
The Red Sox don't actually have a game on Wednesday, but manager John Farrell's goal is to create as realistic an atmosphere as possible.
In an effort to help his players combat rust before Game 1 of Friday's American League Division Series at Fenway Park -- which starts at 3 p.m. on TBS against either the Indians or Rays -- Farrell is organizing an intrasquad game.
Fans can get a chance to take in the mid-afternoon action. The Red Sox are opening Gate D for season ticket holders, children, students and neighbors at 2 p.m. There is no admission for entry. Concession stands will be open.
"Inviting members of the Red Sox family -- our season ticket holders, area students, children, and neighbors -- to Fenway Park for this opportunity is a small way for us to thank them for their support this season," said Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino. "This is a special time and a special team, and we hope some in our community will be able to see our players in this casual, informal workout setting."
Though the Red Sox won't mind having an audience, they will take an all-business approach to the day.
"We'll try to get some, or as close to game speed as we can reproduce here," Farrell said. "Certainly we can't reproduce any kind of environment that other teams going through a normal game will experience, but it's also a chance for our players that are dealing with some things from a physical standpoint to get ahead of them as best possible. And [it's to] get everybody primed and ready to go for Friday."
Buchholz and Peavy aren't expected to pitch until Games 3 and 4, so this is a way to help the two righties stay sharp.
"We're going to stay sharp," said Peavy. "A little more intense than a bullpen [session] would be and we give our hitters a little bit of a live look. Obviously hitting is timing and pitching is disrupting that timing. When you don't get to do that for three or four days, sometimes you lose some of that."
Jon Lester and John Lackey are expected to pitch the first two games, though Farrell won't formally reveal his rotation plans until Wednesday at the earliest.
Several relievers will likely also see work in the intrasquad game. Farrell will leave it up to the individual hitters whether they want to face teammates.
Red Sox keeping close tabs on AL Wild Card Game
BOSTON -- When the Rays and Indians play the American League Wild Card Game on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on TBS, the Red Sox will have both personal and professional interests.
From a personal standpoint, the players will watch because they are big fans. Then, of course, there is the professional implication.
The winner of that game will be at Fenway Park on Friday for Game 1 of the AL Division Series at 3 p.m. on TBS.
"I was talking to my father about this last night," said Jake Peavy. "The way I watched the [Rangers-Rays Game No. 163] was a much different way than he and my mother and brother did. I'm watching pitch sequences and how guys are setting up and what guys are doing in different situations. And that's certainly the way I think we'll all watch the game tomorrow night. I know we're going to face some of those hitters, so I watch it a lot like I watch homework tapes."
"As a fan of the game, I'll watch it," said lefty Craig Breslow. "I don't think it will affect the way we prepare. It's pretty easy to get wrapped up in the dramatics of postseason baseball. At the same time, we need to concentrate on continuing to do what we need to take care of internally."
There are also individual stories within the game that will be of interest to different people.
For example, Indians manager Terry Francona is one of Red Sox manager John Farrell's closest friends in baseball.
Farrell and Francona have both been too busy with their own teams to have much communication of late.
"A congratulatory text," Farrell said. "It's been minimal. Doesn't mean we don't follow it close. But they're on a very good run."
Farrell was the Indians' farm director for five years before becoming Francona's pitching coach in Boston in 2007.
"There's a lot of quality and talented people over there," Farrell said. "To see it come together with a chance to advance after tomorrow night, I think because you have past experiences with many people, you want the best for them. There would be an incredible amount of side stories if we do meet up with them in the Division Series."
The Red Sox will spend a good chunk of Thursday scouting their next opponent.
"There's a component of the preparation that deals with who your opponent will be," said Breslow. "More than that, it's kind of making sure that we're prepared the way we can control. It'll be nice to look at some scouting reports and see what kind of hitters we're preparing for. Our starting pitching has been effective against pretty much anybody. We've got the utmost confidence in the bullpen's ability to get guys out regardless of who they are. It will be nice for it not to be a surprise, but I don't think it's necessarily imperative to the success of the team."
• As the Red Sox continue to make evaluations before finalizing their roster for the American League Division Series, four players were informed they won't be part of the team's postseason plans. Right-handers Allen Webster, Steven Wright and Brayan Villarreal were all sent home for the season, as was utility infielder Brock Holt.
• Farrell doesn't think general manager Ben Cherington gets enough credit for the job he's done putting the 2013 Red Sox together.
"He's done an outstanding job. I'm certainly not one to compliment him on it, because he lives it, as do we," said Farrell. "But his vision clearly started last August with the trade with the Dodgers. Where we stand today was initiated 14 months ago. So it's tremendous foresight on his part.
"But to select the people, in addition to the talent that he brought in, everyone has fit well. It didn't stop after the free-agent signing period this winter. Quintin Berry is another example of maybe a less publicized acquisition that can maybe fill a pivotal role or pivotal contribution on our end.
"It's a never-ending pursuit on his part, whether it's looking at internal options, his ability to outline things to us in uniform from a staff standpoint, he includes us in that whole process and it's worked very well. But he's done a great job of revamping who sits in our clubhouse today."
• Who better than Gomes to describe the vibe for the Red Sox as the start of the postseason draws near?
"Real excited," said Gomes. "You look at 162 games and six months and it's not even an appetizer for what is about to happen. Five hundred, 600-plus at-bats comes down to four in that first game. The atmosphere. We grinded, we battled, we worked hard for the home-field advantage. And we got that. I think this park in Fenway probably stands at the top of the board for what a home-field advantage means with the hostile environment, the big wall."
• The consistency of this year's Red Sox was probably the most underrated aspect of the team. The Sox went the entire season without losing more than three games in a row. The only other team to do that in franchise history? The 1903 squad. The last team in the Majors to not lose more than three in a row in season was the 2005 Cardinals.