BOSTON -- Thursday’s workout at Fenway Park was relatively casual. Some batting practice, a few grounders and some light tossing in the outfield. It had the feel of a pregame routine, which, in a way, it was.
For the Red Sox, Thursday stood as the final prep for Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Friday and the end of an unusual, but effective, week of preparation, which included team workouts Tuesday and Thursday and a full-squad, six-inning scrimmage on Wednesday,
“As far as what we’re able to outline in the three days of work, yeah, we’ve been able to get everything accomplished that we had hoped,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “That includes a good number of pitchers that got to the mound yesterday, our regular players getting to see live pitching.”
The way the week was laid out had plenty to do with that.
“We knew going in [Game 1] was going to be Friday,” Farrell said. “And we could gear everything toward that from our on-field work and certainly our mental approach towards tomorrow being the first game. I think we’re primed and ready to go.”
While the coaching staff likely takes a more methodical approach to the matter, the players are a bit more eager to get back into the action.
“We were ready to play,” said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “Yesterday I think helped out. It wasn’t the adrenaline rush you get in a regular-season game, but see live batters and face live pitching, I think that helps. Once the game starts, I think this team is going to out there and put all the other stuff aside.”
While the Sox have done what they can to mix valuable rest with critical tuneups, the Rays have played in three ultra-intense, do-or-die games this week, winning them with typical Tampa Bay panache. They stifled Toronto, Texas and Cleveland, all on the road, and got some timely hits to get to this point.
How the teams’ different paths impact their play on Friday is one of the great mysteries leading up to the first pitch. Will the Sox come out flat? Is Tampa Bay tired out, having played in three different cities in a span of four nights just to earn the right to visit Fenway Park?
The Rays feel their situation is preferable.
“Moving forward, I want to believe it’s going to create some kind of different form of momentum going into this series, because we’ve been playing,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “We’ve been playing under duress, and we’re not tired. Don’t be deceived, we’re not tired.”
Word around Fenway was that the Rays got into Boston at about 4:30 a.m. ET Thursday. Maddon said he slept until a little after noon. The Rays players appeared loose in a one-hour optional workout in the afternoon.
As that workout progressed, the Sox packed up for the night and went home. When they wake up, it will finally be game day, and Boston -- due in large part to a precise, balanced work week -- will be primed and ready.
Said third baseman Will Middlebrooks: “We’re chomping at the bit to get out and play.”