Farrell in full preparation mode

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Farrell in full preparation mode

BOSTON Before leaving for Nashville and the winter meetings, which begin Monday, Red Sox manager John Farrell addressed several issues his new team faces this offseason.

On the addition of outfielder Jonny Gomes:

FARRELL: Hes a known team guy and characteristics that were making an emphasis on placing. Obviously hes got a lot of talent and has performed exceptionally well against left-handed pitching. By the fact that he has that reputation around the game and what were looking to add a greater number of in our clubhouse, with the overall emphasis that this is a team.

Has he learned the importance of having high-character guys on his team from his two years managing the Blue Jays?

FARRELL: Its important to have good players and its important to have teams or players that buy into a team concept. And thats not to say that that wasnt the case elsewhere. But I think for us to achieve the level that were looking to, thats a main component of it.

Does he see Gomes as an everyday player or as more of a platoon player?

FARRELL: Well probably take a look at matchups as we get into that. But to say that hes strictly a platoon player I dont think that were saying that. Hell have an opportunity to earn the highest number of at-bats he can. We certainly don't want to limit him in any way.

Until seeing him more regularly in spring training I dont know that I can say how that might affect the lineup, situations late in the game with a lead. I know one thing, talking with Jonny its very apparent hes going to work to great lengths to address any limitations he may have. Whether thats offensively, defensively. Thats the type of guy that he is and has contributed to a winning cause with the number of places hes played.

Has Farrell been involved in the Sox recruitment of free agents?

FARRELL: To varying degrees. That's probably more related to where we are in certain stages with individual guys. I certainly anticipate that being the case going forward.

Is it important for a team to have high-profile players to be successful in the big leagues?

FARRELL: You're never going to not want to take talented players. But more important to that is the success of the team has got that team concept and buy-in. And that's not only an area that's not only being talked about with players that have been here, but what we're looking to add to it. So how we work collectively, and how we work together and how we compete together, you can have a group of individuals but if there's no common thread or common purpose, I think that's just going to make the challenge more difficult.

In naming Victor Rodriguez assistant hitting coach on Friday, Farrell completed his coaching staff:

FARRELL: Well, one, the concept that I felt was important with the two-man hitting coach system because the amount of work both from a time allotment in the cage and the amount of video work, I feel like it is a two-man position. But Victor does have a lot of relationships with guys on this club and certainly throughout the system, and for whoever the lead hitting coach was coming in, once we named that person, Victor was a very easy match to that to give a lot of background information and to be able to contribute in his own right. Victors going to be a very strong addition to this staff.

The coaching staff, along with some front office members, advance scouts, and other personnel, will convene on Friday and Saturday at the teams spring training complex in Fort Myers.

FARRELL: With the exception of bullpen coach Gary Tuck, first base coach Arnie Beyeler, and Victor, weve never laid eyes on that complex. And to have some understanding of it, to begin to plan spring training, so when we start there's no hidden element to this. So I think this will give us a leg up on planning spring training.theres a number of firsts that well get out of the way in these two days.

He will have several coaches on his staff in roles theyve never had on major league staffs:

FARRELL: Really with the exception of hitting coach Greg Colbrunn, who we really havent crossed paths all that much in our pro careers, it speaks to the familiarity with the people and the strong belief that theyll be able to perform exceptionally well in the roles that theyre moving into, and I say that with utmost confidence.

Has he talked with all his players yet?

FARRELL: Not 100 percent. I havent spoken to Mauro Gomez. So Im getting through it. Theres been multiple conversations with other guys. But still working through even the additions to the roster, with the six guys who were added just recently. So its getting to that point.

Does he plan to visit with any players?

FARRELL: I havent ruled it out but Ive been back and forth from here quite a bit. So staff being completed is a good thing because I feel very good about the group. But well see.

Addressing recent trade rumors with Jon Lester?

FARRELL: You take the temperature of their reaction, of what could initially be there. And I know Jon in his own words, wants to prove a number of people wrong. And I said, before we go that far, look at it as a positive, that you're a good player. Teams inquire about good players all the time. You can't change the opinion of others by what you do right now. You can by performing to your capabilities, and that's where our focus has to be.

He's a Red Sock. I think any time that first rumor gets out there, it can be a little startling for guys. But I know one thing: He's extremely motivated and he's working his tail off right now to have a very strong year.

Yeah, clearly its easier to have that conversation since they know each other. You get an understanding through that course of time how they respond to certain things, how their minds work and you can, instead of a feeling out, you can be a little bit more direct in certain cases when it might call for it.

Hes had similar conversations with catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway after the addition of David Ross.

FARRELL: Yeah, I think it's important to communicate to guys what the thought is, and this is a starting point. Certainly not the end come April 1.

On the possibility of the Sox trading one of their top starting pitchers:

FARRELL: Anything is a possibility, but I think until we get there, Im planning for everyone thats on the roster right now to be here. So we have some work to do to get guys back to the levels they performed to before, and that's where the focus is right now.

Has he talked with Lavarnway about possibly moving to first base?

FARRELL: We haven't had those discussions, because there is so much focus and emphasis on his development as a catcher, that's where the focus continues to be. With his offensive production as a catcher, he starts to put himself in a small group. There's ongoing maintenance and work to be done there, but no that's where the focus is.

Has he talked to right-hander Alfredo Aceves yet?

FARRELL: Briefly. We've had some brief conversations, a number of messages left. Colorful. He's a talented pitcher. And he can do some things in the game that he may be the only guy who can do them. With the frequency in which he can pitch, to the number of pitches thrown, he's a talented guy.

I think from my standpoint, the approach taken is to be candid with him, to be consistent with him, both in terms of what we value in guys approach, but as best can be communicated to him in his role. And that will evolve going forward, but I think the most important thing is for him to understand where he sits with us, how we view him, and what his role is, and then he can best prepare for that.

Not definitively determined his role yet. We certainly feel like his frequency of his availability as a reliever is a major asset.

How does he view left-hander Franklin Morales role coming into spring training?

FARRELL: Our plan is to have him come in and prepare as a starter. You can always go back the other way, obviously more readily than trying to lengthen out toward the end of camp. But what he did in the rotation last year for the time he was there was very impressive. Not to say how our rotation is going to look come spring training, but he did a good job in that role.

Would he like to have more depth at shortstop:

FARRELL: That's a conversation that's ongoing. It's Dec. 1 and I know the winter meetings are starting and the markets taking shape and things will start falling into place, but that's all part of a number of moving parts.

His thoughts on Pedro Ciriaco:

FARRELL: When you consider that he was a minor league free agent, thats a darn good player. Athletic, can do a number of things. I know there was an attempt to put him in center field, which when you look at a player with his skill set, that's a natural thing. Hey, if he can play center field, boy, then his value really starts to increase.But good first-step quickness, plenty of arm strength to play anywhere on the field, he was, I don't want to say a great find, but he was a heck of an addition when you consider how he came to the big leagues through that path. A lot of value there.

How eager is he to have his full roster?

FARRELL: As much as everybody else that follows the Red Sox. General manager Ben Cherington is going to put together a damn good roster, and Im fully confident in that.

Curran: Do Bledsoe's recollections give insight to Brady's state of mind?

Curran: Do Bledsoe's recollections give insight to Brady's state of mind?

Drew Bledsoe’s being asked to reminisce a lot this fall. And not exactly about fuzzy, feel-good topics that warm the heart.

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Instead, it’s reminiscing about 2001, the year his heart got lacerated and he was replaced for good by Tom Brady, who went on to win a Super Bowl. Or about 2006 when -- as Cowboys quarterback -- he got yanked in favor or Tony Romo and never got back in.

This being the 15th anniversary of SB36 has caused Bledsoe’s phone to ring. And the Brady-Jimmy Garoppolo-Jacoby Brissett dance early this season has brought to the fore discussion of the Brady succession plan, especially now that it appears both players aren’t going to be disasters. How is this situation similar to the one in 2001? Meanwhile, the emergence of Dak Prescott in Dallas puts the oft-injured Romo in more immediate peril of losing his job.

In the past few days, Bledsoe’s opened up to both Albert Breer of MMQB and Michael Silver of NFL Media about the emotions of getting bumped and -- with Breer especially --– the depth he goes into discussing the situation and his emotions then and now are kind of moving.

If you think you’ve heard it all before -- and I believed I had -- you probably haven’t.  The seriousness of Bledsoe’s 2001 injury was not exaggerated, as he explains in an anecdote. He acknowledges feeling entitled to a degree and admits to being bitter about the way he’s recalled.

“One thing I do bristle at a little bit is, I feel like there’s too much of me and Wally Pipp (the Yankees first baseman famously replaced by Lou Gehrig who never got his job back and birthed the verb “Pipped” for anyone who missed a day and got replaced),” Bledsoe told Breer. “I was the single-season passing leader for three organizations when I left. Unfortunately, Tommy’s been so damn good that people sometimes forget I had a pretty nice career.”

Speaking with Silver regarding Romo-Prescott, Bledsoe plumbed his experience with Brady and Bill Belichick in 2001.

"When you're young in the league -- when you're young in life -- you think you're 10-foot tall and bulletproof," said Bledsoe. "You think nobody can ever replace you, and that you're gonna be the guy forever. Eventually, you learn the lesson that it's a replacement business. Sometimes that hits you right between the eyes, which is what happened to me with [Tom] Brady, and again with Tony.

"It happens to all of us. I don't know if it's the time for Tony, but it's something that every quarterback has to confront."

In less than a week, Brady -- the best quarterback in NFL history in the minds of many -- will be back from his suspension. He will have seen in a month’s time that the NFL train rolls along without him and that, while he could never be cloned, he can be capably replaced.

Brady, because of the way he ascended to the job and the friends he’s seen get taken behind the barn in New England, has always been open about understanding he could be replaced. But now he’s got concrete evidence.

Said Bledsoe: "In our heart of hearts, we all want to feel indispensible. We all want to believe, 'There's no way the team can succeed without me.' Then you see the team going on, and winning with a young guy playing the position, and playing it well, and you do some soul searching . . . and you start to think, 'Maybe the team's gonna make that decision to move on.'

"You always want the team to do well, but it's hard. It can be [awkward]. Tommy and I are still good friends, and I text with Romo once in awhile . . . but it's hard to love 'em if they've got your job and you want it back."

Please read both.

Marchand: 'No place I'd rather play' than Boston

Marchand: 'No place I'd rather play' than Boston

The Bruins made it official on Monday -- mere minutes after the news had broken -- as they clearly couldn’t wait to announce an eight year, $49 million contract extension for Brad Marchand. who is finishing up his Team Canada gig at the World Cup of Hockey.

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The deal averages $6.125 million per season, broken up between actual salary and signing bonus money. The Bruins were most definitely given a hometown discount by an elite player who snapped home a career-high 37 goals and 60 points last season, the most goals scored by a Bruins player since Glenn Murray in 2002-03. And everybody knows goal scorers get paid in the NHL, even if Marchand won’t be expected to score quite that many every year.

Marchand, 28, has also been the second-leading scorer in the entire World Cup of Hockey tournament, behind only Sidney Crosby, and continues to raise his profile in the NHL world beyond his customary agitator role. The “Nose Face Killah” could have waited for until free agency if he'd wanted to pick up every last nickel on the table, but it’s very clear he’s invested in the team that drafted and developed him, and with which he won a Cup five years ago.

"This is an extremely exciting day for me and my family," said Marchand, who now has a full no-move clause for the first five years of his next contract. "I would like to thank the Jacobs family, [president] Cam Neely, [general manager] Don Sweeney, [coach] Claude Julien, the coaching staff, my teammates and our fans for their continued support and belief in me. I have been a Bruin since the start of my pro career and there is no place I would rather play. I look forward to doing everything I can to help our team achieve success and bring the Stanley Cup back to Boston."

Marchand has been among the team’s leading scorers since joining the league in 2010-11, has been the NHL’s most dangerous penalty killer over the last five years, and pairs with Patrice Bergeron to anchor the top line. He’s also become much more of a leader in the last few seasons as other character veterans have been peeled away from the core group, and a hometown discount proves it one of the most meaningful ways possible.

It was clear Marchand was invested in the Bruins when he helped recruit free agent David Backes with phone calls this summer, and he was also present for the recruiting pitch to Jimmy Vesey at Warrior Ice Arena last month.

The Bruins players at training camp were happy to hear No. 63 was going to be in Boston for the long haul.

“Marchy is Marchy. I think everybody kind of knows what that means,” said Kevan Miller. “He’s been great for our organization and great for the fans and for this city. He’s been all in since Day One, and he’s been a guy that I looked up to.”

While the Bruins have confirmed the contract, Sweeney won't weigh in until later today. But one would expect there will be an appreciation for the skill of the player, and Marchand’s commitment to the organization after accepting less than he could have gotten on the open market.