When a baseball team reaches the brink of a World Series, the manager must often resist the temptation to tinker.

When a baseball team reaches the brink of a World Series, the manager must often resist the temptation to tinker.

Boston’s Terry Francona and Cleveland’s Eric Wedge have faced those types of decisions throughout the postseason.

Francona gave in a bit Saturday, giving rookie Jacoby Ellsbury the start in center field and sending struggling Coco Crisp to the bench for Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.

Wedge started Trot Nixon in right field instead of Franklin Gutierrez, who seemed a bit unsure of himself at times in the first two games of the series at quirky Fenway Park.

Crisp was batting 3-for-21 (.143) in the series and 5-for-31 (.161) in the postseason.

Wedge’s move was not totally unexpected. Nixon had a go-ahead pinch-hit RBI single in Game 2 and started Game 3. Gutierrez was batting 2-for-15 (.133) in the series and 4-for-25 (.160) in the postseason.

“Trot gives us a little more experience, he knows right field here, he’s a left-handed bat and he knows Fenway Park,” Wedge said.

That was where the tinkering stopped, but not the temptation.

Wedge was asked about dropping Travis Hafner (3-for-19 in the series) down in the batting order. He was also asked about putting utilityman Scott Gomez into the starting lineup against Boston starter Curt Schilling. Gomez has a career .306 average (11-for-36) off Schilling and also has a career .350 average (14-for-40) off Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

“I was tempted to use Gomez against (Wakefield),” Wedge said. “He’s ready to play if we need him. With Travis, he just needs to simplify things. If he overthinks, he gets in-between. We need him to step up for us.”

General Manager Mark Shapiro supported leaving Hafner in the lineup.

“We’ve never relied on one guy this year,” Shapiro said. “The other guys need to pick Travis up. That’s how I look at it.”

Francona was also asked about replacing struggling shortstop Julio Lugo, 3-for-18 (.167) in the series.

“Alex Cora hasn’t really played at all,” Francona said. “Lugo always has his speed. But, yeah, there was some temptation.”

Not that bad

Indians General Manager Mark Shapiro said the success of the 2007 club shouldn’t be all that surprising, because the 2006 team was not as bad as its 78-84 record would indicate.

“It was one component, the bullpen, that was historically bad,” Shapiro said. “That would have been a good, contending team with even an average bullpen.”

The road man

Cleveland Director of Player Personnel Steve Lubratich, who scouted Colorado during the National League Championship Series, was in Boston with the Indians on Saturday.

Lubratich noted that, when the World Series begins, the Rockies will have played seven games in a span of 22 days.

The big left-hander

Shapiro said he doesn’t believe LHP C.C. Sabathia’s postseason struggles (8.80 ERA in three starts) are the result of a tired arm. Sabathia has worked 257 innings this season.

“He’s throwing the ball hard, he’s strong, there’s no dropoff in the action of his pitches at all,” Shapiro said. “There’s nothing to the untrained eye that suggests a problem.”

Go Vandy

Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin was a guest of Indians RHP Jensen Lewis at Game 6.

Corbin, Lewis, RHP Jeremy Sowers and bullpen catcher David Wallace all spent Saturday afternoon at the team hotel following the Commodores’ 17-6 football upset of No. 6 South Carolina on ESPN’s GameCast.

Remember me?

Bill Mueller, the third baseman on Boston’s 2004 World Series champions, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Reach Repository sports writer Andy Call at (330) 580-8346 or e-mail andy.call@cantonrep.com.