Notes: Sox look to build on perspective
Varitek expresses confidence in Beckett and teammates
CLEVELAND -- Sitting in the proverbial captain's chair, tucked away in the corner of the Red Sox's clubhouse, Jason Varitek succinctly summed up what is ahead for his baseball team.
There was no dramatic desperation in his voice on Wednesday, instead just perspective, which he hopes can help the Red Sox dig their way out of this 3-1 deficit to the Indians in the American League Championship Series.
Varitek has no room in his life for the "woe is us" attitude. He was too focused on getting ready for Game 5.
"It's exciting that we still have a chance and that we're still playing baseball," said Varitek. "We have a chance to play a game tomorrow. All we can control is that opportunity tomorrow. We have a tremendous amount of confidence in Josh [Beckett], obviously, along with a lot of our other pitchers. We do have a chance and it starts tomorrow."
And the chance, reminded Varitek, is nothing a team should scoff at. After all, 27 other teams have already packed up for the offseason.
"I don't think anyone is down," said Varitek. "I looked at the good things. We have a chance. We have a chance to still play baseball. There's not but one other team right now, besides the team we're playing, that has a chance to play baseball. So we have one more chance."
Varitek was one of many Boston players who came to the field for an optional workout on Wednesday.
"Just practice, keep the blood flow going," Varitek said. "Me personally, I'm better when my body stays active. Just go out, take some BP, do some things to gear us up and get ready to play tomorrow."
To Varitek, the reasons the Red Sox have fallen behind in this series hardly resemble rocket science. And neither is the cure.
"We need to command the strike zone, both sides of the plate -- work ahead," said Varitek. "If we're not ahead, [we need to] be able to make pitches behind -- allow ourselves an opportunity to have a quality start."
Varitek has been in frequent communication with his teammates about ways to get momentum back.
"We have talked," said Varitek. "Not necessarily I have talked. Things have been talked about. We have to handle them in there. It has to start from in here and work its way out and then through our fans. We need to set the tone in here first."
Will Varitek -- as the team captain -- call a team meeting before Game 5?
"[I'll] try not to let the cat out of the bag here," said Varitek. "Yesterday a couple of people said some things, we have been constantly communicating throughout games: in the dugout, in the locker room; it's just a trickle effect. Now our results haven't been there, but now it's time for the results to start coming in our favor."
Beckett's back: During the Game 4 broadcast, FOX's Ken Rosenthal reported that Beckett experienced some back stiffness after Game 1.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona wouldn't confirm or deny the report, but he did say that Beckett will be fine for Game 5.
"You know, I don't think I want to get into any medical [details]," Francona said. "I think I kind of alluded the other day after his start that he was [experiencing stiffness]. I think I might have said he was kind of beat up or it took a toll from him or whatever. Again, I don't feel the need to always reveal every single nick that somebody has or doesn't have or is perceived to have."
If Beckett was experiencing some back pain, it would further explain why he didn't pitch Game 4 on three days' rest.
"Basically, in a nutshell, we really felt like the way we did it put us in the best position for the whole series," said Francona.
Kielty will get nod: Though Boston's season hangs in the balance in Game 5, J.D. Drew will start the game on the bench instead of in right field. Once again, Bobby Kielty will start against C.C. Sabathia.
Kielty delivered a key two-run single off Sabathia in Game 1 and is 9-for-29 in his career (regular season only) against the lefty, with four doubles and two homers.
Francona didn't sound as if he was contemplating any other switches.
"[Bench coach Brad Mills] and myself, we stayed here last night and talked about a lot of things," said Francona. "But I think we tried so hard to get ourselves in a position where we could run this lineup out there, and then in Games 1 and 2, we really did such a great job. So in short doses, things certainly get magnified. I think what we need to do is get ourselves in position where we can manufacture runs and not just lean on solo home runs."
Faith in Pedroia: One fast remedy for the Red Sox could be the resurgence of second baseman Dustin Pedroia. The leadoff man is hitting .188 in this series, and is just 5-for-29 in the postseason.
"When you get to this part of the season, especially in the postseason, you're facing good pitching every night," said Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan. "He wants to do well. I think all our guys want to do well. He's hit some balls hard. This time of year, one or two at-bats where you hit a ball hard, when something falls in for you, you gain confidence from that."
Plus, Pedroia isn't the type of player who loses a whole lot of confidence.
"Dustin's a very confident player and we've all got a lot of faith in him," said Magadan. "Like many times he did during the year, just when he starts to hit a little bit of a tailspin, he turns it around with one at-bat and then he gets it rolling. I don't have any trepidation about what he's going to do the rest of the way."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.