10/4/2013 3:04 P.M. ET
Several Red Sox getting their first October taste
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
BOSTON -- Of the 25 players on the Red Sox's American League Division Series roster, there are nine who have never participated in the postseason.
Those players will take on various levels of importance.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia is the starting catcher and a key piece to what the Red Sox have done this season. Will Middlebrooks is the starting third baseman. Craig Breslow is the team's top lefty reliever. Daniel Nava was out of the lineup for Game 1, but he should start in left field against all righties in this series. Mike Carp has been an invaluable reserve.
Felix Doubront was a key piece to the rotation all season, but he is now moving to the bullpen. Xander Bogaerts is the team's top prospect and should see action, be it as a pinch-hitter or in spot starts at short or third. Junichi Tazawa has been a key setup man, though he's been somewhat inconsistent down the stretch.
Brandon Workman was called up from the Minors earlier this season and has gotten some key outs as a reliever.
Though the only way to know how a player will handle postseason experience is to see him go through it, the Red Sox have several veterans who have been passing down simple words of wisdom to the players going through this for the first time.
What does David Ortiz -- owner of two World Series rings -- tell those teammates?
"Not to overdo things. Stick with your game and don't let the pressure take over," said Ortiz. "We talk about it every day. They always have questions for me, being around longer, and I'll answer it for them. But the main key is just to keep on playing your game and don't try to overdo things. Take it step by step."
Extra days off benefited Victorino most
BOSTON -- Though the four-day break was helpful to several Red Sox players who have been dealing with bumps and bruises, right fielder Shane Victorino is probably the person who benefited the most.
All season long, Victorino has been dealing with nagging injuries, be it his back, hip, quad, or, most recently, his right thumb.
Victorino was in his customary No. 2 spot in manager John Farrell's lineup for Friday's Game 1 against the Rays.
"Letting that hand issue kind of calm down a little bit [has been important]," said Farrell. "The work he has done over the last four days, in addition to the rest, swinging the bat, he doesn't feel any symptoms in that anymore. That's been a plus."
Though it won't come into play much in the first two games, when the Red Sox face lefty starters, it will be interesting to see if Victorino reverts back to switch-hitting when the Rays have a righty.
Starting in early August, Victorino has batted almost exclusively right-handed, thanks to weakness in his left hamstring.
"We'll see," said Farrell. "He's felt so comfortable [from the right side]. I think he has one at-bat of late from the left side."
• In advance of Game 1, which had a scheduled first pitch of 3:07 p.m. ET, Farrell got to his office at 7:45 a.m. Getting ready for the first postseason game of his managerial career, Farrell didn't seem to have any added weight on his shoulders. Like everyone else, he seemed excited.
"It's different for the fact we started out in February hoping we would be in this position and we've worked all year for the right to play in October," Farrell said. "I think everybody over the last four days has been building to this moment to get it started, and I'm no different."
Farrell joked about the fact that he arranged Wednesday's intrasquad game to start at 3:07 p.m. so his team could gauge the shadows. It was cloudy in the pregame hours for Game 1, but the skies had brightened a little by game time.
• The players who were on the bubble to make the postseason roster but didn't make it will stay active in case a need arises.
Jackie Bradley Jr., Brandon Snyder, Rubby De La Rosa and Drake Britton boarded a plane Friday to Fort Myers, Fla., where they will stay in baseball shape.
They would have an easy two-hour drive to Tropicana Field if an injury developed when the series shifts there.
Matt Thornton, Ryan Lavarnway and John McDonald will remain with the team and participate in pregame activities and will be in uniform, despite being inactive. Andrew Miller and Andrew Bailey, who are out for the season with injuries, will also remain with the team throughout the postseason.
• In Farrell's office, there are photos of every manager in team history. In the spot where Terry Francona's head shot should be, there is instead a framed photo of long-time clubhouse attendant Edward "Pookie" Jackson. It was a light-hearted prank by someone, considering that Francona adored Jackson during his time in Boston, and Farrell and Francona are close friends.