Thank goodness for the cup of coffee Showalter had sitting on his desk in the visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park on Monday morning.
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“It’s such uncharted territory for everybody,” Showalter said. “Ask me after the game. I just hope that [both teams are] operating on the same thing except they slept in their bed. ... It’s a different clock than you ever have. It’s even different than the spring.
“The only thing I ever worry about is the quality of [play]. We’re all trying to deliver a certain level of play each day. Some are more challenging than others."
Monday’s game will have added meaning here in Boston – and around the country – because it’s the first running of the marathon since three were killed and more than 260 injured by a pair of bombs that went off near the finish line last year.
“We know why,” Showalter said of the early baseball game. “This has something to do with the Marathon. It’s very important to our country, not just Boston.
“We played last night because ESPN wanted to televise the Red Sox game, and we happened to be playing them. ESPN is very good to Major League Baseball. We get it. People who complain about it the most are people who are at every game, players, coaches, managers, umpires and media. People that come to this game at 11 and who came last night could care less about it, so why talk about it?”
Because of the early start, Showalter sent today's starter Wei-Yin Chen to the hotel earlier Sunday night than he normally would for the night before a day game.
** Showalter said it’s too soon to gauge the severity of shortstop J.J. Hardy’s strained right hamstring. Hardy isn’t in Monday's starting lineup, but Showalter wouldn’t rule him out as a possible substitution.
“I’m not going to broadcast whether he’s available or not today,” Showalter said. “Hopefully we got it before it turned into something that would be a problem. We’ll see.
“I was considering not playing him today. I can’t be totally honest and commit that I totally would have done that.”
** Showalter was still simmering from Sunday night’s 6-5 walkoff loss, still frustrated that he wasn’t granted a review of whether the Boston base runners tagged up on the final play of the game.
According to replay rules, whether a runner left early on a tag-up play cannot be reviewed, but Showalter wanted the umpires to review whether all the base runners tagged properly before Dustin Pedroia scored the winning run on a throw home.
“Last play of the game,” Showalter said. “They didn’t have a real good answer when I was asking them about tagging up and did they he touch the next base. It’s not reviewable.
“When you're looking at them, talking to you, you understand there’s not a lot of conviction, and rightfully so. You can tell this is putting them on their heels a little bit.”
Showalter has made his opinions about the new replay system well known, saying that the biggest challenge is predicting what plays umpires in New York deem as inconclusive.
“The game’s been around since long before any of us were born, so this is something that’s different in the game for the first time in [a long time] ... so there is some unknown. It’s like in some sport we all grew up playing, and all of a sudden you don’t have ghost runners and the ball off the tree is an out.”
Showalter said trying to challenge a costly error on Ryan Flaherty in the seventh inning would have been a waste of time because of the dubious history of the new transfer rule that redefines possession of the ball to include the transfer from glove hand to throwing hand.
Major League Baseball will reportedly adjust the definition of the rule. Showalter said that could come within the next two weeks.
“They haven’t overturned anything,” Showalter said. “We talk about it. The ball security is so important. They’re going to come back and say, when a glove closes, that’s a catch. We knew what they were going to call during spring training, so anybody who says they weren’t told about it must have fell asleep at the meetings.”
Here are Monday’s starting lineups: