DETROIT — Red Sox manager John Farrell didn't need much time to make up his mind regarding whether to start Xander Bogaerts in Game 5 of the ALCS. The rookie got the news before he left Comerica Park on Wednesday night.
The Red Sox needed help offensively and Bogaerts was the logical choice.
“The one thing that Xander has shown in the brief opportunities that he has had is a consistent approach and it’s time to throw him in the fire,” Farrell said.
Farrell is open to the idea of Bogaerts staying in the lineup.
“We’re going to see how we go,” he said. “To me, it’s going to take everybody on our team to advance. That doesn’t mean Will won’t appear somewhere else in these final three games. I think it’s going to take contributions from everybody on this team.”
Middlebrooks is 4 for 23 in the postseason and 1 for 10 in the ALCS with five strikeouts. Shortstop Stephen Drew was even worse, going 3 for 28 in the postseason and 1 for 13 in the ALCS through Wednesday.
But Farrell wanted to keep Drew’s lefthanded bat in the lineup against Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez.
“I’m still seeing a consistent approach from Stephen. Yet the results haven’t been there,” Farrell said. “It’s not like he’s pulling off pitches and becoming susceptible to any one thing.”
Farrell was less charitable to Middlebrooks.
“He’s becoming a little susceptible to off-speed, changeup in and breaking ball that’s running away from him,” he said.
Middlebrooks was not told until Thursday that he was out of the lineup and was disappointed.
“I wouldn't expect him to be pleased with not being in the lineup today. That's just who he is,” Farrell said. “And that's the overriding attitude in our clubhouse.”
• The Red Sox are out of the running for free agent Cuban first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu. The 26-year-old, who defected two months ago, was an accomplished power hitter in Cuba. The Red Sox, major league sources said, were willing to sign him to a $40 million deal but dropped out when the bidding approached $70 million.
Signing Abreu would not have eliminated the possibility of the Red Sox retaining first baseman Mike Napoli, who will be a free agent. There is mutual interest from both sides for Napoli to return.
“I’m not worried about that right now and I don’t think they are right now,” Napoli said. “We’re trying to win a championship and once everything ends [negotiations will start].
“I want to be here. I love it here. It’s a great situation, a great city; fans are awesome. It’s been awesome. We’ll worry about that later.”
• Dan Butler, a catching prospect on the 40-man roster, will start play in the Dominican Winter League on Friday. Butler played in 84 games for Triple A Pawtucket this season, hitting .262 with an .829 OPS. The Sox also are planning to send righthander Allen Webster to winter ball along with outfielders Alex Hassan and Bryce Brentz. Injuries limited Hassan to 258 plate appearances this season and Brentz 368.
• Jake Peavy, who threw only 62 pitches over three-plus innings on Wednesday, will be available in the bullpen for Game 6 on Saturday at Fenway Park. Peavy has one game of relief experience in the majors, that coming in 2011 with the White Sox. He threw four scoreless innings against the Nationals, allowing one hit and striking out seven.