BOSTON — The 1988 Cleveland Indians were not a great team. They finished 78-84 under Doc Edwards, who went on to manage the Buffalo Bisons five years later. But they sure produced a lot of great baseball minds.
Boston’s John Farrell is one of five 2013 MLB managers from that club, joining Cleveland’s Terry Francona, Texas’ Ron Washington, San Diego’s Bud Black and Philadelphia’s Charlie Manuel, the hitting coach in ’88 who was fired by the Phillies in September.
Current Pirates hitting coach and former Bisons shortstop Jay Bell was on the team. So was Cincinnati hitting coach Brook Jacoby and Houston first base coach and Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Clark. Several players from the club have also become broadcasters.
“Must have been something in Lake Erie,” Farrell joked here Wednesday prior to Game One of the World Series.
Farrell said he remembered conversations with Black in the outfield during batting practice about staying in the game, although as players they were unsure of what the future held.
“To say what role that was going to be, I don’t know that he knew or I knew. I know I didn’t know exactly what role that would have been in,” Farrell said.
“Whether it’s coincidental that five guys off of that team have gone on to manage, it’s a unique situation for sure. But the one thing I can say about all five people ... it’s just the care and respect for the game that you love. And it’s more about a life as opposed to a job.”
The Cardinals got Allen Craig back for the first time since Sept. 4 and used him as their designated hitter and cleanup man. Craig had great numbers during the season (.315-13-97) but had a foot injury that nagged him the last six weeks.
“We just need to see him healthy,” said Cards manager Mike Matheny. “When we watched him hit live a couple of times and watched the bat speed, more than anything else he wasn’t favoring the foot. It became obvious then he was going to be right back in the mix.”
“He’s a run producer in the middle of their order as a right-handed hitter,” Farrell said. “I’m sure they’re feeling pretty good that they can use him in the DH role.
“We also recognize that there’s been 40-some games missed, and that’s not being taken lightly on our part, because we’ve seen guys step back in after sizable games missed and have performed very well.”
The reference was to Detroit’s Jhonny Peralta, who was a standout in the ALCS even though he missed 50 games for a PED suspension and did not return until the final weekend of the regular season.
The Red Sox are keeping a close watch on pitcher Clay Buchholz, who missed three months with shoulder trouble and was pulled after 85 pitches during an outing last week against Detroit.
Felix Doubront pitched a simulated game here Tuesday and could be used in his place although Farrell tried to douse that speculation prior to the opener.
“Right now he’s scheduled to pitch on the weekend over in St. Louis,” Farrell said. “We have yet to determine whether Peavy is in Game Four or Game Three. Some of that will be determined on how we see the style of John Lackey go up against this team tomorrow night.”
Farrell on star slugger David Ortiz’s impact on every new Boston player: “They all look to him as the guy that’s paved the way, that has dealt with the challenges that are present here in Boston, that has also succeeded at the highest level. And he’s so open with his experiences, to maybe help a guy transition into this environment and this market.”
The American League leads the World Series but the National League has won five of the last seven, with the exceptions being the 2007 Red Sox and 2009 Yankees. The NL, in fact, has won three straight (two by San Francisco, one by the Cardinals) for the first time since winning four in a row from 1979-1982 (Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, St. Louis).
This series is just the second time in the 20 years of the six-division alignment that an NL Central team is meeting an AL East team. The only other such meeting was the 2004 series between these teams.
It’s also the first time since 1958 that teams with identical regular season records are meeting. The teams both went 97-65, matching a feat that saw the ’58 Yankees and Milwaukee Braves go 92-62.