Q. From your two jobs, I think it's fair to say at Toronto you had fewer connections going into it. Do you think there is an ease, I guess, in just knowing the terrain better?
JOHN FARRELL: Yeah, and it doesn't stop with the players. I think Ben and I were able to hit the ground running with the number of challenges and decisions that had to be made in the offseason last year. Whether it's he, Mike Hazen, Brian O'Halloran, a number of guys that were here that we've worked with and met some challenges along the way. We've been able to, I don't want to say picked up where we left off, but have an understanding of what makes one another tick.
Q. A couple of years ago you saw Jon Lester when you came in with the Blue Jays and probably saw him at his lowest point. What has happened with him since that point where he's managed to rebound to what we see him again today?
JOHN FARRELL: Fundamentally he's gotten back to a delivery that has been more consistent, probably more conducive to him being able to execute on the mound as he's capable. We saw for about three or four years where he was always in the conversation of one of the top left‑handers in the game. And it was more a matter of adjusting delivery, that he already started toward the latter part of last year.
And some of those changes really took hold in Spring Training, and from there his confidence probably has returned to the levels prior to the time you're talking about. So setting aside about a six‑ or seven‑start span in the season he's had a very consistent year for us.
Q. Craig Breslow, everybody knows he's really smart, but what's it like having a guy that intelligent around on an everyday basis from a baseball standpoint and from a personal perspective?
JOHN FARRELL: He uses words in a normal conversation that I'm not used to. But I think the intelligence clearly plays out on the mound. This is someone who's been a very good performer for us, whether it's against right‑handers, left‑handers, and because of his ability to keep things emotionally under control on the mound is another reason why he's so trusted, by all of us, late in the game and some high leverage situations.
Yeah, I think there's some comments down in the clubhouse that probably are better suited for other places than here, when he starts to speak, and some guys might not think along with him.
Q. A lot has been made of the starting matchups in this series. Can you offer a comment on the importance of the bullpen and how you see the two bullpens matching up.
JOHN FARRELL: Hopefully our starters match up to theirs. And I think that will be one of the keys in this series for us. I can't speak for what Jim is thinking about with his own team. Our ability for our starters to keep the game under control will be pivotal for us. How deep into a game they work remains to be seen, but we've got some guys that we trust late in the game, whether it's Craig Bres, that we just spoke of, or Junichi and certainly Koji at the end. But we feel we've got matchup ability, and guys tested most recently in this series.
Q. How similar has Clay been these past four or five games compared to how he was in April and May?
JOHN FARRELL: In the starts that he's made since coming off the DL, there's still been a little bit of a building component, building his stamina and endurance inside of a given day. But the touch and feel to secondary pitches are consistent to pre‑injury. And I think coming out of particularly the last three starts, where we've been able to get him over a hundred, 110 pitches on each of those outings, I think he comes away with greater confidence on the physical side of things. I think he's always been a confident guy in executing a certain pitch or selecting a certain pitch inside of an at‑bat and we'll need more against this lineup here. This is as good a lineup as we're probably going to face.
Q. Do you see Clay being stronger this time of year than he would have been if he didn't miss those three months?
JOHN FARRELL: I wish he wouldn't have missed the three months, I can tell you that. But every path to a certain player is going to take a different turn on the way. And to say that he's more rested, well, he was also recovering from an injury. You can't cut out three months and say he was going to be that much fresher. He was dealing with a physical ailment that we had to build back from. Going into tomorrow, there's no restrictions on how we plan for tomorrow or plan for a given start. So we feel like he's in good shape physically going into tomorrow.
Q. How much different is the lineup when both Will and Mike Napoli are on at the same time? Back in September they were both hitting very well.
JOHN FARRELL: Anytime you have guys contributing up and down the lineup it's going to make it that much more difficult on the opposing pitcher. It's going to give us probably more scoring opportunities. Both have shown some streakiness in games played. In the time off that we've gone through prior to a series opening up has played into that a little bit. Because both benefit from everyday play. We're hopeful that the four games just concluded is the foundation and the basis for ‑‑ we'll need them. And hopefully that bridges that gap at the end of the season to where we are today.