ST. LOUIS -- By inserting David Ortiz at first base for Game 3 of the World Series, not only do the Red Sox lose one of their most productive bats in Mike Napoli, but also one of their best fielders throughout the season.
Though Napoli didn't finish as one of the top three finalists at first base in the American League Gold Glove voting, many of the metrics suggest that he should have.
"He's done an outstanding job there," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "And you're always going to feel that way about your own guy because you see the amount of work they put in and all that's gone into that with the work of [infield instructor Brian Butterfield] and [Napoli]. In our mind, he is [a Gold Glover]. And really, all these other awards are outward acknowledgements of the work that guys do, but he's no less important than anyone that has received a Gold Glove here."
If the Red Sox are leading in the late innings of Game 3, it is a certainty that Napoli will sub for Ortiz on defense. Farrell will be cognizant of that when it comes to a proper spot for Napoli to pinch-hit.
"If we do have a lead in the sixth or seventh inning, he's more than ready to go to pick up for David at first," said Farrell. "That's why we've got to be a little careful when to use him as a pinch-hitter as well, to preserve that defensive side of it."
One interesting development during Saturday's batting practice was Napoli taking grounders at third base. Napoli has never played that position in his Major League career. He played one game there at the Minor League level in 2002.
Though it seems unlikely Napoli would play third beyond an emergency situation in the World Series, Farrell hasn't ruled it out entirely.
"It's being thought of," Farrell told FOX's Ken Rosenthal.
"Not tonight, but it's an option," Farrell told Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com.
Without Napoli in the lineup for Game 3, Daniel Nava batted fifth, making his first World Series start in place of Jonny Gomes in left.
Slumping Salty gets nod over Ross in Game 3
ST. LOUIS -- The decision of which catcher to play continues to be one that manager John Farrell puts a lot of thought into on a daily basis.
Though Jarrod Saltalamacchia is in a funk at the plate, he got the nod for the second straight game on Saturday night. David Ross started Boston's Game 1 win.
In 29 at-bats in the postseason, Saltalamacchia has 17 strikeouts. Since the start of the American League Championship Series, Saltalamacchia has three hits in his last 19 at-bats.
"Yes, that's been thought of," said Farrell. "Yet, out of consistency with what we've done with Salty, I outlined some things before each of the last two series, this one included, we're trying to stay consistent with that. But we also know we've got five games remaining in this year, and if there needs to be a change or if there's a view that a change should be made, you know what? All things will be considered."
Saltalamacchia's power from the left side can be a big factor, although it hasn't been of late. Since his double in Game 1 of the AL Division Series, Saltalamacchia hasn't produced an extra-base hit.
"We need to get Salty going," Farrell said. "David Ross has been swinging the bat pretty darn good. But yeah, like I said, we need to get a couple guys going on our offense."
• Despite Clay Buchholz's much-chronicled shoulder fatigue, Farrell said he didn't give a lot of consideration to pitching Jon Lester on three days' rest in this series, which could have given the ace the chance to start Games 1, 4 and 7.
"There was some conversation, but I think history shows that has not been successful," Farrell said. "Well, from a broader perspective on Lester, the last seven, eight weeks of the season, he pitched on [five] days' rest the entire time. He went on [four] days' rest in Detroit, and had a little bit different stuff. It was noticeable. I recognize we're in the World Series, I recognize the time of year. I would rather have Jon Lester at full strength, or with normal rest, than three days of rest."
• The Red Sox have Quintin Berry on the postseason roster largely because of his ability to steal a base as a pinch-runner. It will be interesting to see if Berry can utilize his speed against elite catcher Yadier Molina. In the first two games, the Red Sox didn't attempt a stolen base.
"I guess we're going to find that out when it happens," said Farrell. "They do a good job of controlling the running game. That's clear. And yet in the two games, we haven't had that situation arise yet."
• With his pitchers set to hit in the next three games, Farrell hopes they can get down bunts when needed.
"Even something as basic as a sac bunt, we don't have that much repetition," Farrell said. "We can work all we want, as we do, in the cage or live BP sessions, but you put 40-plus thousand people in the seats and 90-plus [mph] coming at you, that's a different scenario. We just hope to get a sac bunt down if it calls for it."