BOSTON -- Red Sox manager John Farrell dropped a couple of hints Thursday about possible lineup changes, while making it clear that Detroit's all-righty rotation will not preclude starts for catcher David Ross and outfielder Jonny Gomes.
He did not say as much, but Farrell suggested that Xander Bogaerts could get a start at third base. Farrell was asked about who will be starting at third in Games 1 and 2.
"It will be Middlebrooks [Saturday]," Farrell said. "And then based on some matchups, we've got some things we're looking at in a couple of different spots."
In Sunday's Game 2, the Sox will be facing Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer, who went seven innings and allowed two runs in each of his two starts against the Sox this season. Middlebrooks is 1-for-6 with 4 strikeouts in a small sample size. Middlebrooks had 3 hits and 3 walks in the ALDS, posting a .375 on-base percentage, and Farrell said he still prefers Middlebrooks' defense at third to that of Bogaerts, who has had very limited exposure at the position.
Bogaerts, who turned 21 on Oct. 1 and joins Ken Brett and Babe Ruth as the only players 21 and under to have appeared in a postseason game for the Sox, drew two walks and scored twice in Game 4 of the ALDS, including the tying run and insurance run in Boston's 3-1 win.
Farrell said "there's a place" for Ross in the lineup. "I see it on paper in a couple of situations," he said.
He may have hinted at one of those situations when he noted how good Game 1 starter Jon Lester was against the Tigers on Sept. 3 in Fenway Park, in which he outdueled Scherzer, 2-1. Ross was behind the plate for that game, in which Lester did not walk a batter and struck out nine.
"[Lester] and David Ross hooked up and executed a game plan that was successful," Farrell said, "It was powerful. That was one game inside the second half that as we viewed Jon's season, it really became clear throughout the second half, not just that one game, that he would lead us through the month of October."
Could Ross be behind the plate for Game 1? Farrell said he had not yet talked to his catchers, but that "we'll look to mix and match."
Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled, singled and walked in Game 1, driving in three runs while catching Lester, who allowed two earned runs on three hits in 7 2/3 innings, walking three and striking out seven. Ross caught Lackey in Game 2, with Saltalamacchia catching both games in St. Petersburg, where he was 1-for-7 with 5 strikeouts at the plate, but made a sensational play on Matt Joyce's fouled bunt in Game 3, racing back to the screen to make the catch.
Farrell also said he envisioned roles for Jonny Gomes and Mike Carp.
"The strength of this team has been the depth of its roster," he said. "There are going to be some matchups that we think are more favorable in one case or another. And we've had the utmost -- we've had complete confidence in every guy in our uniform. And they're going to be involved."