NASHVILLE — Red Sox manager John Farrell fielded 10 questions from Toronto-based reporters Tuesday during his scheduled interview session.
Farrell again had to defend his decision to leave the Blue Jays with a year left on his contract to join the Sox. Suffice it to say, Farrell is in for an angry reception when the Sox play in Toronto next season.
“Looking forward to it,” he said with a smile.
There was time to sneak in a few questions about the Red Sox.
Farrell said that Mike Napoli, who agreed to terms with the Sox Monday, would spend little time behind the plate next season but some during spring training.
‘We see him as a first baseman primarily, but with the ability to catch and to acclimate him to our pitchers in spring training,” Farrell said. “One of the things we would do, provided all this goes through, is that we would have him catch in spring training early on, but then certainly make sure that we’ve got enough reps at first base for not only him to feel comfortable there, but for us as well.”
Farrell also said that he is planning to visit some players before spring training. He will be in Dallas in two weeks to meet with third baseman Will Middlebrooks and righthander John Lackey.
Middlebrooks, he said, has no lingering effects from his broken right wrist and Lackey will not be restricted in spring training after recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery.
“Spring training is going to tell us a lot about where John’s at, and we fully expect him to be ready to go,” said Farrell, who said Lackey would be in the rotation.
David Ortiz is coming along with his strained right Achilles’ tendon.
“Everything has progressed on schedule,” Farrell said. “I know I think he’s due to come back to Boston sometime middle of this month to get another re-check. The overall prognosis of his rehab is to be ready for spring training.”
Farrell also discussed his plans to help Daniel Bard recover from his poor 2012 season and demotion to the minor leagues because of wildness.
“The separation of mental and fundamental is a great debate, what’s going to come first. I think it’s first and foremost that we get him in a position to command the baseball a little bit more regularly,” the manager said.
“Just in reviewing some video from last year vs. a couple of years previous, there’s some noticeable changes there just from a physical side.”
Farrell believes Bard changed his mind-set when he became a starter and that affected the quality and velocity of his pitchers because he was too focused on going deeper into games.
“I think he tried to ‘pitch’ rather than be dominant with his stuff. So those are the angles that I would want, and I would both look to take with him and get him back to a more simplified, more power type of approach,” Farrell said.
Farrell also is trying to decide what is the best path for righthander Alfredo Aceves, a talented pitcher with the versatility to start or pitch in relief. Aceves had a strained relationship with management and teammates last season because of his behavior.
“Personally, I see him as a very dominant reliever late in the game. Whether we sit here today and fully define what that role is. I don’t know if we’re here to do that,” Farrell said. “There’s a lot of discussion internally that he could still provide a depth starter for us or possibly a fifth starter.
“The one thing we have is a talented pitcher that can do some things physically that not many can do.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi was asked about the Sox adding Napoli and Shane Victorino.
“Napoli can hit the ball out of the ballpark, no doubt about it. He had a great year in 2011,” Girardi said. “Victorino is a guy that can play in the outfield, a switch hitter. He’s very dangerous from the right side [and there are] lot of lefthanders in our league. They’ve improved their club, no doubt about it.”
On the lookout
Sox general manager Ben Cherington said he is looking for a player who can back up Napoli at first base “and preferably someone who could do more than just that.” . . . The Sox are among the teams interested in free agent starters Ryan Dempster and Kyle Lohse . . . Long-time Red Sox scout Buzzy Bowers was named the East Coast scout of the year by the Scout of the Year Foundation . . . Rangers manager Ron Washington on Napoli, who he had for two seasons: “He’s got a tremendous character. He’s a winner. It’s unfortunate that things didn’t work out here, but we do wish him well in Boston.”