Farrell ready to learn from mistakes made in Toronto

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Farrell ready to learn from mistakes made in Toronto

BOSTON The Red Sox had their sights set on John Farrell as a potential manager even before he joined the organization as pitching coach in 2007. General manager Ben Cherington and assistant general manager Mike Hazen had known Farrell for years, were familiar with him and his skill set, and were comfortable that he would be the right person for the job.

They tried to get him from Toronto a year ago, after Terry Francona was fired following the collapse of 2011. But, when the Blue Jays requested right-hander Clay Buchholz in return, the Sox closed the window and turned their sights elsewhere.

But when the debacle of 2012 and the disastrous tenure of Bobby Valentine ended, the Sox again looked to the north. This time they were not denied, getting Farrell in exchange for infielder Mike Aviles.

But Farrells tenure in Toronto was not without its controversies. In two seasons leading the Blue Jays he compiled a combined record of 154-170, finishing in fourth place in the American League East each year. Only the Sox disaster of 2012 saved him from finishing in last place in the division.

Farrell said he learned from his experience with the Jays, from game management to dealing with players.

There were times where I could have, and this comes from those experiences in Toronto in my relationship with general manager Alex Anthopoulos and the conversations we would have regarding the roster, I think there might have been opportunities for me to speak a little bit more passionately toward some suggestions or recommendations to the roster, Farrell said. We also introduced and brought in a number of young players and we created a diverse offense that was aggressive. We looked to incorporate a much more aggressive running game. Some of that was overboard and some of that we ran into some outs.

"So creating that environment, that approach and then putting young players into it, there probably were opportunities where I should have shut them down as far as the Xs and Os of the game and maybe I would have changed closers a little bit quicker."

But the criticisms were not limited to his game-management decisions. In September, shortstop Yunel Escobar played a game against the Red Sox wearing eye black with a homophobic slur written in Spanish. Later that month, veteran Omar Vizquel questioned Farrells communication with staff and players and his direction of young players.

I think there are going to be situations that arise with any club and how you deal with them, Farrell said. Again, establishing that trusting environment and if that trust is breached, thats where I chose to deal with players in one-on-one situations in my office and then teaching settings came out of that, as far as the decision-making maybe on the basepaths.

In the terms of the other situations and with Escobars eye black situation, theres a minimum amount of professionalism that is expected and I would suspect that his teammates would have said something to him. But the fact that is he wrote some things on his eye black on a number of occasions, never once was it malicious of my understanding and to think that he had written something that was offensive to a large portion of the population, you know what, it was wrong. And he paid the price in terms of discipline on that.

The other comments, you know what, they might not have been fully informed as a result of the way some of the discipline is handled. So people are going to have their opinions. But by no means should that suggest that a clubhouse is a free-for-all by any means.

None of that shook the Sox confidence in Farrell.

What Im looking for in a manager is someone who can make sure that players that we have are getting everything that we need every day, taking advantage of all the resources, and ultimately that were prepared to play, said general manager Ben Cherington. Theres a lot that goes into that. Theres teaching that goes into that, preparation, game-planning that goes into that. Ultimately its on me and us, the organization, to build a roster that then leads to wins.

The managers job is to get the most out of the roster thats given to him and clearly based on our performance this year we need to do a better job of building a roster so that not just John but the entire organization benefits and our fans get what they deserve. So that work is going to continue to go on. Its been going on this month. Its going to go on all offseason. Its not going to stop in spring training.

I believe John is the right person to make sure that once the rosters together and we hit spring training, that every players given the best opportunity possible to succeed and ultimately our team had the best opportunities.

Gronkowsk hoping to go "freakin' crazy" on the field soon

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Gronkowsk hoping to go "freakin' crazy" on the field soon

FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowsi had what was, for him, an incredibly quiet game against the Texans on Thursday. He saw 14 snaps and ran just one route. He did see a target from rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett when he ran that route, but it floated high over his head and sailed out of the end zone incomplete. 

In his first game action since suffering a hamstring injury on Aug. 15, the Patriots chose to being their All-Pro tight end along slowly, but he's hoping that he'll be more involved in the very near future. 

"You’ve got to be careful with any injury, but I mean, if you research hamstrings, if you know anything about hamstrings, you’ve definitely got to be careful," he said. "You’ve got to progress. You can’t just hop back in and be full-go 100 percent. I wish it was like that. I can’t wait until I’m going freakin' crazy out there again. So I’m just progressing myself into it and feeling better every single day."

Gronkowski was back on the practice field for his team's workout in full pads on Wednesday. He was spotted running through drills and catching passes from tight ends coach Brian Daboll, and he did not appear to be visibly limited. After running around in a game, albeit briefly, Gronkowski explained that he experienced no setbacks.

"I felt good, definitely," Gronkowski said of playing under the lights. "You’re always sore no matter what after playing a game. No matter if you play 10 plays or 70 plays, [you’re] definitely sore like any other game. But no setbacks. No nothing. Feeling good and just progressing every day."

Regardless of who happens to be playing quarterback for the Patriots against the Bills on Sunday -- whether it's Jimmy Garoppolo or Brissett, both of whom practiced Wednesday -- having Gronkowski on the field and closer to his usual level of participation should help. 

"They’re doing very well, very excellent," Gronkowski said of Garoppolo and Brissett's performances with Tom Brady out. "Every single day, they’re just trying to improve and progress every day. This week, you just see everyone throughout the team, everyone is just trying to progress . . . The coaches do a great job of getting the quarterbacks prepared. If there is something there that we need to get on the same page with the quarterbacks on, we’ll talk, but the coaches do an excellent job of getting the quarterbacks ready."

McAdam: Doesn't take long for second-guessing of Farrell to resume

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McAdam: Doesn't take long for second-guessing of Farrell to resume

Three takeaways from the Red Sox' 6-4 loss to the Yankees on Tuesday night . . . 

1) Long relief may be short for the Red Sox in the postseason

The news that Drew Pomeranz won't start Thursday and is dealing with forearm soreness was ominous -- to say the least. While the Sox aren't concerned enough to order up an MRI for the lefty, it seems a fair bet that he won't pitch again this season. Pomeranz wasn't going to crack the postseason rotation and would likely have been relegated to relief duty. Now, even that seems a stretch.

Add that development to the continued absence of Steven Wright and the Red Sox are missing 40 percent of their rotation from late July and early August.

Healthy, both would have been stretched-out and available to provide multiple innings in the postseason.

Of course, most teams would prefer to not have to rely on long men in the postseason, since their very appearance in a game would signifiy that a starter got knocked out early.

When that happens, however, it's nice to have experienced, dependable arms to cover innings and not impact the bullpen's high-leverage pitchers.

Now, in such a scenario, the Sox will likely have to turn to either Robbie Ross Jr. or Heath Hembree.

2) Is Aaron Hill heating up?

In the month of September, Hill has posted a line of .381/.409/.571. On Tuesday night, he blasted a pinch-hit homer.

Admittedly, that's a relatively small sample size. But Hill has had better at-bats of late, especially against lefties.

It's doubtful that he'll take over third base -- now or in the postseason -- full-time, since John Farrell has two left-handed hitting options, with Travis Shaw and Brock Holt. Shaw certainly more power and has shown the ability to go on hot streaks at the plate.

But Hill is a veteran player, albeit one with little postseason experience (11 at-bats in the Division Series for Arizona in 2011) for a 12-year veteran.

And one other benefit: Hill is a .373 career hitter as a pinch-hitter, making him a valuable part off the bench in games started by either Holt or Shaw.

3) One loss is all it took for the second-guessing to resurface

The Sox had won 11 straight before Tuesday's loss, which quickly re-introduced criticism of Farrell.

Starter David Price had given up four runs through six innings, but the Sox rallied for two runs off Tommy Layne in the seventh to tie things at 4-4.

At 76 pitches, Price went back out for the seventh and promptly yielded a two-run homer to Tyler Austin, giving the Yanks another two-run lead.

Price hadn't been sharp in the first six. With expanded rosters, plenty of available relievers and a rested bullpen after a day off Monday, why stick with Price?

Offered Farrell: "You go with a right-hander they’re going to go with [Mark] Teixeira and [Brian] McCann with that right-field porch,” Farrell said. “Wanted to keep the (right-handed hitters) in the ballgame, (but Price) mislocated over the plate.”