Dombrowski supports starting Shaw, Holt

Best players will play for Red Sox regardless of their salaries

Dombrowski supports starting Shaw, Holt

MONTREAL -- Red Sox manager John Farrell's decision to start the season with a pair of high-priced players (Pablo Sandoval and Rusney Castillo) on the bench has been met with the complete backing of president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

In fact, it was Dombrowski's message to Farrell early in camp to play the best players and not the most expensive ones that helped empower the manager to make such tough decisions.

Travis Shaw will start at third base instead of Sandoval. Brock Holt will play left field against most righties, with Chris Young playing there against lefties. Castillo's role will be a fifth outfielder who roves in all three spots.

"I think it's important, and this is just my own philosophies," Dombrowski said. "You work with your manager hand-in-hand on everything. But my final responsibility is to supply the talent for him, and his responsibility is to play the talent.

"I told John the same thing I've told Jim Leyland for years and other managers I've worked with: Play the lineup that gives us the best chance to win. Sometimes I don't think, because it was new for John, that he really believed it in the beginning."

By the time decisions had to be made, Farrell understood that what Dombrowski had said weeks earlier still held true, and it made difficult decisions easier to make.

"Dave's been very candid and he's been very consistent," Farrell said. "It was a unique statement to be said, given, let's face it, there's huge financial ramifications with certain players. To have that clarity that we're all about winning games and we feel that the best team is the one that's aligned right now and to have that ability to do that, put it this way, it was a little surprising when it was first said.

"This ability to be able to say objectively this is who we feel is the best players and to do that, I think it sends a resounding message in our clubhouse," Farrell said. "There's no glass ceiling on guys. If you're about putting up and contributing to a team that has the best chance to win, we're all in on that."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.