ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — As he walked out of the visitor’s clubhouse on Monday night, Jake Peavy made it clear that he would prefer to have a day off on Tuesday.
But equally certain was the fact he is relishing a chance to pitch against Tampa Bay.
Monday’s 5-4 victory by the Rays forced a Game 4. Peavy will now face Jeremy Hellickson with the Red Sox up, 2-1, in the best-of-five series.
“I want the ball and I’m going to do everything I can to get us the win,” Peavy said. “I’ll be ready.”
Peavy will be pitching for the first time since Sept. 25 in Colorado. Outside of two innings in an intrasquad game last week, he has been idle since.
“I took that about as serious as I could take it and felt like I got some good work in. I treated that as much like a game as I could possibly do,” Peavy said. “You could throw all the bullpens in the world, you can play catch and do those types of things, but you have to simulate getting out there and going full speed.”
Peavy will be pitching in the postseason for the first time since 2006 when he was with the Padres. In two starts for San Diego in Division Series games in 2005 and ’06 he allowed 13 earned runs over 9⅔ innings.
“I’ve learned, experience means way more than I ever thought it did,” Peavy said. “You say you need experience. You say you want experience. Until you have experience and understand what experience is, I don’t think you can talk about it and appreciate it until you are able to see it firsthand for yourself.
“I wish I could go back and know what I know now, be a little bit more under control in between the ears and on the mental side of things than I was back then.”
Peavy was 4-1 with a 4.04 earned run average in 10 starts for the Red Sox after being acquired from the White Sox on July 30.
In two starts against the Rays this season, Peavy allowed six earned runs over 12⅔ innings.
Peavy already feels an emotional connection to the Red Sox.
“The day I walked in this clubhouse I felt like I was home. I felt like this is where I was meant to be,” Peavy said. “I belong with this group of players, with this group of coaching staff and front office and with this group of fans. This is where I belong. I’m a Boston Red Sox now.
“I know I’ve only been here two months, but I’m as emotionally attached and tied to this group of guys and this fan base and front office and coaches and I’ll forever be. This is what baseball is about, and I’m honored to play here.”
Veteran infielder John McDonald is not on the postseason roster but is traveling with the team and working out before games and during batting practice. One of his projects has been working with rookie infielder Xander Bogaerts.
Bogaerts, 21, is on the roster as a bench player. He and McDonald go through drills before games and discuss the finer points of fielding.
McDonald, a 15-year veteran, is a superb defensive shortstop who also has played second and third. Bogaerts has been an apt pupil, he said.
“It’s something fun we do, a little competition,” McDonald said. “It helps keep him sharp, and maybe there are a few things I can show him in terms of positioning and how to be more efficient.
“I keep on telling him that I’m just being picky. He’s going to make the play regardless of what I tell him. But I’m always looking for a way to try to get better, and every player should. He has been great.”
Count McDonald among those who do not believe the 6-foot-3-inch Bogaerts will get too big to play shortstop.
“To me, he can play shortstop,” McDonald said. “If he gets heavier, maybe they would have to consider something else. But he moves well and he makes all the plays. Xander has a chance to be a special player.”
Farrell said the experience of being around the team in the postseason would serve Bogaerts well.
“The fact you’re a live, active player, regardless of at-bats and innings played, the fact you’re on call and going through the cycle, it’s experience,” Farrell said. “Even though it might not be full experience of games played, it’s experience that will be part of who he is as a player moving forward.”
Bogaerts, who pinch ran in the ninth inning and stayed in to play third base, joined Babe Ruth (1915-16) and Ken Brett (1967) as the only Red Sox to play in a postseason age 21 or younger.
The walkoff loss was the first for the Red Sox since Aaron Boone’s home run off Tim Wakefield in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS against the Yankees . . . Quintin Berry, who stole second in the eighth inning, is 27 for 27 in stolen bases in the majors, counting the postseason . . . It didn’t cost the Red Sox a run, but Clay Buchholz had a longer fourth inning because Ben Zobrist hit a popup that struck a catwalk above the diamond. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia caught the ball but it was out of play according to the ground rules. Zobrist walked and Buchholz ended up having to work out of a bases-loaded jam. “Probably cost me 20 pitches,” he said . . . Zobrist’s wife, Julianna, performed the national anthem . . . Farrell is just the third Red Sox manager to win his first two postseason games, joining Darrell Johnson (who won his first four in 1975) and Terry Francona (who won his first three in 2004). Jake Stahl (1912), Ed Barrow (1918), and Francona won the World Series in their first season . . . David Ortiz will represent the Red Sox in the voting for the Hank Aaron Award, which is given to the most outstanding offensive performer in each league. Fan voting via MLB.com (through Thursday) will determine the winners, with the announcement coming during the World Series. Ortiz won the award in 2005.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.