BOSTON -- With a chance to win the World Series in Wednesday night's Game 6, right fielder Shane Victorino returned to Boston's lineup after missing the previous two games with tightness in his lower back.
However, for the first time in this postseason, Victorino was dropped from his usual No. 2 spot in the batting order and instead batted sixth.
Victorino came into the night 0-for-10 in the World Series. Since the start of the American League Championship Series, he is 3-for-34, though one of those hits was the game-breaking grand slam in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series which helped the Red Sox win the AL pennant.
Manager John Farrell said that the overriding factor in moving Victorino down was that he liked the look of his Game 5 lineup, when Dustin Pedroia batted second and the red-hot David Ortiz hit third.
"In talking with Vic about this yesterday, he was understanding of it," said Farrell. "He's hit in the five-hole quite a bit, particularly against right-handed starters when he was hitting left-handed. I gave him my reasons for it, for what we mentioned as well as to keep the other two guys at the top of the order."
Victorino was just happy to be able to return to the mix in Game 6. He probably could have played Game 5, but he agreed with Farrell to play it safe.
"I feel a lot better," Victorino said. "Progressively, I've gotten better every day."
Lester, Doubront ready to give relief when needed
BOSTON -- Jon Lester has come out of the last two days feeling no physical limitations, and the lefty ace plans on being available out of the Red Sox bullpen if the World Series extends to Game 7 on Thursday night.
The left-hander threw 91 pitches in Monday's Game 5, so his relief stint would come following two days of rest.
"Lester will be available tomorrow," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Right now, Jake Peavy will start tomorrow. And everybody else is available in the bullpen."
As for more immediate matters, lefty Felix Doubront was a full-go for Game 6 after pitching two innings in Game 3 and another 2 2/3 in Game 4.
Doubront could likely pitch multiple innings again if Farrell needs him for that in Game 6.
"I think so," Farrell said. "Just talking with him yesterday during the workout, he felt good yesterday. That will always be in-game, how things are going, but yeah, multiple innings, I would expect him to be available for that."
A forgotten man when the postseason started -- Doubront didn't pitch in the American League Division Series -- he has become an important piece of late. Doubront was a starting pitcher all season, but he has been able to make a nice transition to relief after showing some initial reluctance.
"[When you pitch] just two innings, you have to give everything you have," Doubront said. "I've been focused and just throwing strikes. It's crazy, you have to be really focused on what you're doing. That's what I did. I just wanted to get quick outs and get out of there. I'm ready."
Game 4 starter Clay Buchholz, who has been dealing with right shoulder weakness, was pinch-hit for in the fifth inning of his start and threw just 66 pitches. He could pitch in Game 6, but Farrell hinted that with a fully-rested bullpen at his disposal, Buchholz would probably be limited to emergency duty.
Farrell plays hot hands in postseason
BOSTON -- For almost all of the regular season, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and left fielder Daniel Nava were primary starters for the Red Sox.
Of late, they've both been used more as reserves. Manager John Farrell has liked the way his lineup has looked with catcher David Ross and left fielder Jonny Gomes, so he's gone in that direction more in the postseason, including Wednesday night's potential Game 6 clincher.
Still, it hasn't been easy for Farrell to tell those players about their roles being reduced.
In Saltalamacchia's case, he's not only been an important offensive component for the Red Sox, but he also anchored the pitching staff for much of the year.
"That's the tough thing, where you see what a guy has done through the course of the year and has earned the right to be on the field," said Farrell. "And yet for specific reasons, you'll see a matchup, we're better able to attack a matchup in a certain way."
Saltalamacchia has struggled at the plate in the postseason, while Ross has come up with some important hits in games he's played.
"And yet, as I mentioned to Salty, we've had a few guys in our lineup that we're trying to get started, get jump-started offensively. With Rossy back there, he's given us a spark offensively," Farrell said. "He might not like it, which I respect. I wouldn't want him to like it. But it's also a different time of the year. That sense of urgency that we talked about leading into the postseason is here now."
As a first-time manager in the postseason, Farrell has reached out to former Sox manager Terry Francona at times.
"Yeah, Tito's the one guy I've gone back and forth with on some things, but it hasn't been in great detail," Farrell said. "But no, it's been more from observation and maybe just some gut feel of what might be coming ahead and the urgency, and that was helpful just standing next to Tito for those four years."
If the Red Sox win this World Series, Farrell will join Francona as the only living men to manage the tradition-laden franchise to championship glory.
"In his own way, Tito, he can send some messages that might be a little bit different to others, but having been around him so much and when he says certain things, you take it to heart," Farrell said. "But we talked more probably in the Division and the Championship Series rather than this series.
"We always reach out to one another, either in a brief text or an occasional phone call where you have a chance to ask him some questions. But I can't say that it's really been anything outside the norm between he and I, as we've gone through the postseason here."
Pedroia, Victorino appreciate Gold Glove recognition
BOSTON -- Even though Dustin Pedroia and Shane Victorino had won multiple Gold Glove Awards before being recognized again for their defensive excellence on Tuesday night, they were both grateful for the honor.
Before Game 6 of the World Series, Pedroia and Victorino held a joint press conference.
Pedroia also won Gold Gloves in 2008 and '11.
"Yeah, it's definitely a huge honor," Pedroia said. "I mean, there's so many great second basemen in the American League. So to win that award is an honor. We play against them every night. You see them out there and you respect them so much the way they play the game, all of them. It's a huge honor."
Victorino won three straight Gold Gloves for the Phillies as a center fielder from 2008-10. But this one was his first in the American League, and first as a right fielder.
"I think it means a lot," Victorino said. "More than anything, I think the magnitude of moving to right field, the magnitude of playing in Fenway Park. Everybody talked about how hard Fenway Park in right field was to play. I've always worked hard on my defense. And I've always taken pride in my defense, just like Dustin has and the rest of this team collectively. I think there's a lot of other guys that are deserving of a Gold Glove."