First pitch: Red Sox managerial search to start with Farrell

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First pitch: Red Sox managerial search to start with Farrell

NEW YORK -- If you listen closely, you can almost hear a clock ticking on the Red Sox' 2012 season, and, no, it is not about to detonate, casusing collateral damage.

Rather, it is about to quietly expire, and with it, Bobby Valentine's tenure as manager of the team will come to end.

The Red Sox can't say that publicly, of course. Both ownership and the front office said two months ago that Valentine would finish the season, and with just two games remaining, they'll make good on that vow.

But when the Red Sox return home to Boston, there will be meetings scheduled Thursday and it's all but certain that the team will hold a news conference to fire Valentine.

That's when things will get really interesting.

The clear front-runner for the job is Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell, who served as Red Sox pitching coach from 2007 through 2010.

But because Farrell is under contract with the Blue Jays through the end of 2013, the Red Sox will likely have to compensate the Blue Jays for allowing Farrell to leave with a year remaining on his deal. A year ago, the Blue Jays demanded Clay Buchholz in return for Farrell. If the asking price is as prohibitive this time, the Red Sox won't waste much time bickering with Toronto and will move on to other candidates.

Just how cooperative the Jays are will itself be fascinating.

Before the Sox even get around to asking about Farrell, it's possible that the Jays could themselves present Farrell with a contract extension.

Should that happen, Farrell could have a decision to make. If he accepts, he will effectively be taking himself out of the running for the Red Sox job. If he declines, he'll be signaling to the Jays that he wishes to explore returning to Boston.

"There are,'' acknowledges one baseball executive, "a lot of moving parts to this whole thing.''

Several people with knowledge of the situation insist that there is likely to be a divide within the Toronto organization when it comes to allowing Farrell to leave -- or, at the minimum, making the compensation reasonable enough to enable him to do so.

Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston is seen as someone who is more likely to facilitate Farrell's departure -- if that is indeed what Farrell wants.

The one caveat: Beeston is sensitive to the notion that some fans view the Red Sox' role as poachers -- the mighty, big-market U.S. team intent on plundering the Blue Jays, using them as a farm team for the Sox' development.

Given that this is the second time that the Sox have inquired about Farrell and that just one year remains on his contract, Beeston may not want to stand in the way if Farrell wishes to make the move.

General manager Alex Anthopoulos, however, is likely to be far less accommodating. Despite a losing season, Anthopoulos values Farrell and is eager to retain him. And if he doesn't retain him, he's not likely to allow Farrell to bolt to a division rival.

If the Sox encounter a roadblock with Farrell, where would they next turn?

While the Sox still place a value on managerial experience, they're not blind to the fact that a number of recent hires with no experience whatsoever have been enormously successful, including Mike Matheny (St. Louis), Robin Ventura (Chicago) and Kirk Gibson (Arizona).

Some have suggested that Jason Varitek, hired as a special assistant last week, would be a good choice if the club opted to consider candidates without previous experience.

But a source indicates that Varitek isn't yet ready to make that sort of commitment. Further, Varitek is said to understand that taking over a roster of former teammates would be problematic.

Varitek may well pursue managing down the road. But for any number of reasons, that time is not now.

Cherington had a long list of candidates last fall -- including Pete Mackanin, Sandy Alomar Jr and Torey Lovullo -- but if ownership found them less than inspiring, it's difficult to imagine he would return to the same group.

Detroit Tigers coach Gene Lamont made it to the finalist stage, but interviewing him again would only highlight the point that the organization made the wrong choice last December.

In all likelihood, the team would start fresh, with perhaps a willingness to consider other names without experience, including former Sox third baseman Bill Mueller and Brad Ausmus.

First, however, they intend to find out about Farrell.

After strong bullpen session, Koji Uehara could be back by Labor Day

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After strong bullpen session, Koji Uehara could be back by Labor Day

BOSTON - For a bullpen that could use all the help it can get right now, there's the prospect that Koji Uehara could rejoin the Red Sox on Labor Day.

Uehara, who's been out since July 20 with a strained pectoral muscle, threw a bullpen Monday at Fenway that impressed John Farrell.

"He came out of today's work session in good fashion,'' said Farrell. "It was 25 pitches to hitters with good intensity to both his fastball and split. It's been impressive to see how he's handled the volume, and now, three times on the mound, the intensity to his bullpens and BP.''

Next up for Uehara will be a bullpen session Wednesday morning, followed by a live batting practice session Saturday in Oakland.

Since both Pawtucket's and Portland's seasons are over on Labor Day, Uehara won't have the option of going on a rehab assignment to face hitters before being activated.

But the Sox believe that he can build arm strength through these side sessions and BP sessions -- enough so that he could return to the active roster soon.

"We'll re-assess where is after Sunday,'' said Farrell, "and I wouldn't rule out activation [after that]. What we've done with Koji is just review how he feels after each session and we'll take it from there.''

Uehara, 41, is 2-3 with a 4.50 ERA, and while he's had a propensity for giving up homers (eight in just 36 innings), he had been throwing better before being injured.

And given the performance of the bullpen in general and the recent poor showings from Matt Barnes, the Sox would welcome Uehara back as soon as he's ready.

"The one thing that Koji has proven to us,'' noted Farrell, "is that, even with limited spring training work [in the past], he's been a very effective pitcher for us and obviously, he has a chance to make a very positive impact once he does return.''

Uehara's progress since late July has been a pleasant surprise for the Sox, who feared at the time of the injury that he might be done for the season.     

"To his credit,'' said Farrell, "he's worked his tail off and advanced fairly rapidly and he's withstanding the intensity that he's put into [the work]. A healthy Koji certainly adds to our bullpen.

 

Red Sox among ‘roughly half’ of MLB who’ll attend Tebow workout Tuesday

Red Sox among ‘roughly half’ of MLB who’ll attend Tebow workout Tuesday

Maybe Tim Tebow could be the eighth-inning guy? 

OK, OK. Maybe not. Still, the Red Sox will be among the “roughly half” of the MLB teams who will attend the former Heisman Trophy winner and Patriots’ 2013 training camp phenomenon’s baseball tryout on Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Tebow is 29 and hasn’t played organized baseball since he was a junior in high school. He was an All-State performer in Florida back then.

Based on his accuracy and mechanics throwing a football, maybe DH would suit Tebow better than the mound. 

 

 

Monday’s Red Sox-Rays lineups: No Pedroia to start, Porcello goes for 18th

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Monday’s Red Sox-Rays lineups: No Pedroia to start, Porcello goes for 18th

Dustin Pedroia is out of the Red Sox starting lineup for the second night in a row as they open a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays tonight at Fenway Park.

Pedroia, who left the team Sunday to attend a family funeral, told manager John Farrell that he might be able to return during the game Monday night. 

"Based on his texts he's envisioning a walk-off hit in the ninth," Farrell said before the game Sunday. "Much like Pedey's fashion, that was his parting text this morning before he left."

For the second game in a row, Brock Holt will play second base in place of Pedroia and bat leadoff. The Red Sox lost 10-4 to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday night. 

Right-hander Rick Porcello (17-3, 3.23 ERA) will go for his 18th win and try to match Dave “Boo” Ferris in 1946 as the only Red Sox pitchers to go 13-0 at Fenway Park. Right-hander Matt Andriese (6-5, 3.71) starts for the Rays.

The lineups:

RAYS

Logan Forsythe 2B

Kevin Kiermaier CF

Evan Longoria 2B

Brad Miller 1B

Matt Duffy SS

Logan Morrison DH

Nick Franklin RF

Corey Dickerson LF

Bobby Wilson C

Matt Andriese RHP 

RED SOX

Brock Holt 2B

Xander Bogaerts SS

David Ortiz DH

Mookie Betts RF

Hanley Ramirez 1B

Travis Shaw 3B

Chris Young LF

Sandy Leon C

Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Rick Porcello RHP