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Farrell explains decision not to use Napoli

Farrell explains decision not to use Napoli

Farrell explains decision not to use Napoli

ST. LOUIS -- Both teams poured out of their respective dugouts at the end of World Series Game 3 on Saturday -- the Cardinals to celebrate their 5-4 victory, the Red Sox to argue the obstruction call that made it possible.

It was the only time that Boston slugger Mike Napoli was not confined to the bench.

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Despite having multiple opportunities to use Napoli as a pinch-hitter, manager John Farrell held back his usual first baseman in the hopes of deploying him in a higher-leverage situation. That never happened, though, and the Red Sox lost without having used one of their best players.

The most obvious opportunity to use Napoli came in the ninth, with pitcher Brandon Workman scheduled to hit against Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal with one out and no one on. But hoping to squeeze a few more outs out of Workman in an effort to limit his own closer, Koji Uehara, to four or five batters, Farrell sent Workman to the plate with one out.

So instead of one of the game's premier power hitters -- Napoli hit 23 home runs and 38 doubles in 498 regular-season at-bats -- batting in the ninth inning of a deadlocked World Series game, Workman made his first professional plate appearance.

Workman struck out on three pitches, then retired one more batter from the mound before giving way to Uehara.

"I felt like we had four outs with Koji, four to five outs," Farrell said. "If the thought was to go for a two-inning outing for Koji, we would have pinch-hit for Workman the inning before. We were trying to get two innings out of Workman. Once his pitch count was getting in the 30s range, with the go-ahead run on base, that was the time to bring Koji in, even though this would have been five outs. We fully expected him to go back out for the 10th."

Farrell most regrets not double-switching when he brought Workman into the game in the eighth inning -- a common move in the National League. Had he done so, he would have removed catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who made the final out of the top of the eighth, and inserted Workman into his spot. Then he would have put backup catcher David Ross into the lineup batting ninth.

That would have allowed Workman to pitch multiple innings without ever stepping to the plate. It also would have given the Red Sox a side benefit of having Ross, a superior defensive catcher, behind the plate late in a tie game. Though Saltalamacchia may be the better hitter, he never batted again in the game.

"In hindsight, [I] probably should have double-switched after Salty made the final out the previous inning, with Workman coming in the game," Farrell said. "I felt like, if we get into an extended situation, which the game was looking like, I was going to hold [Napoli] back in the event that spot came up again. Like I said, in hindsight, having Workman hit against Rosenthal is a mismatch, I recognize it, but we needed more than one inning out of Workman."

Going into the evening, one of the hottest topics of discussion was whether Farrell would find a way to use both Napoli and David Ortiz in an NL ballpark, without the benefit of a DH. Farrell instead opted for the obvious move, playing Ortiz at first and holding Napoli on his bench for safekeeping.

And that is where Napoli stayed, never to move. Farrell used left-handed pinch-hitter Mike Carp against right-handed Cardinals starter Joe Kelly in the fifth inning, then called for Jonny Gomes over Napoli against lefty Kevin Siegrist in the seventh.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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