Farrell adjusting to life as a manager


Farrell adjusting to life as a manager

By Sean McAdam

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- John Farrell sat in the dugout at City of Palms Park Friday afternoon, watching the Red Sox take batting practice.

That much was the same.

Everything else was different.

Farrell was in the visitor's dugout, not the home one on the third-base side. He wore the uniform of the Toronto Blue Jays and not the Red Sox. And instead of filling the role of pitching coach, Farrell was a manager.

Wave after wave of Red Sox well-wishers visited him, from players (Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, Jason Varitek), to members of the baseball operations staff (GM Theo Epstein, player development director Mike Hazen), and, of course, Terry Francona, with whom he worked closely for four seasons.

"I'm sure it will be strange,'' said Farrell before his Blue Jays met the Red Sox for the first time this spring. "Four years made a major impact, personally and professionally. And there were a lot of great relationships, that's for sure, with a lot of people.

''Being on this side of the field will probably be different.''

The Jays hired Farrell last October, selecting him over Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale, and this spring has been a whirlwind. After concentrating on the pitching staff alone with the Red Sox, Farrell is now in charge of an entire roster for the first time.

"The biggest learning curve,'' he related, "has been inside the game - dealing with the other side of the ball, for lack of a better term. Running an offense, taking input from the staff. Other than that, I can't say that it's been a complete surprise in any way.''

Farrell has had to broaden his scope in the dugout. No longer does he have the luxury of focusing solely on "one pitcher's delivery. In that way, it's been fun. It's a much broader scope. That's been new, obviously. But it's been a lot of fun.''

He's leaned on bench coach Don Wakamatsu, hitting coach Dwayne Murphy and third base coach Bruce Butterfield to help with the learning curve, in much the same way Francona once relied on Farrell and others on his staff.

Farrell inherits a team in transition. Gone are outfielder Vernon Wells, first baseman Lyle Overbay and catcher John Buck, who combined for 71 homers last season.

In their place, the Jays are intent on being a more athletic, aggressive team, somewhat in the mold of the upstart Tampa Bay Rays, who have used a modest payroll, strong pitching and a daring offensive gameplan to win the American League East two of the last three seasons.

"(The Rays) are tangible evidence that you can put together a team which can compete in this division,'' he said. "I think the days of sitting back with unathletic, one-dimensional kind of players is probably behind the game as a whole -- for obvious reasons.

"We feel like we've got a good nucleus of pitchers. But we'd like to play an uptempo style of game. Having prepared against different styles of teams, that's one that can create a little bit more uncertainty. If we can be that much more unpredictable rather than one-dimensional, that's the ultimate goal.''

Even from afar (and now a division rival), Farrell finds himself occasionally leaning on Francona for advice. The two were close friends for years before they joined together with the Red Sox and Francona's influence is still felt.

"I can go on and on about the time spent together and what he means to me,'' said Farell. "I'm forever grateful. There's quite a bit of (Francona's influence). Let's face it -- I haven't had a chance to develop my own managing style. So I'm going to take with me a lot of what he did, either with players or staff or the way he respects the game, the way he dealt with umpires, the media.

"Certainly, I'm my own person. I'm not trying to be Tito. But there's a lot of things that, having experienced first-hand, that are going to have an influence. That goes without saying.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

David Price improves command, indicates he's pitching through ailment


David Price improves command, indicates he's pitching through ailment

BOSTON — David Price and Rick Porcello showed improvement on back-to-back nights Friday and Saturday, important signs for the Red Sox after a difficult month for both pitchers prior to this homestand.

Price on Saturday night went six innings and allowed three runs, two earned, in a 6-3 loss to the Angels. He fanned five and his velocity has been consistently better this year than last year.

But the most important number was his walk total: one. He walked three batters in his previous start, and four in both of his starts prior.

“Two outings ago, the first start here in Fenway,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “There was better timing in his delivery and overall better separation over the rubber. And he carried that through I thought, even though there's a higher pitch count in Houston, and has been able to maintain it here. I can't say there was one specific thing. It's been more the timing over the rubber. And you're seeing him pitch out of the stretch exclusively. Just less moving parts in a better position to repeat it.”

After Price’s final inning, the telecast captured Price calling pitching coach Carl Willis into the tunnel. Neither Farrell nor Price detailed the conversation. 

“Yeah, everything was fine,” Farrell said of the conversation. “Everything is OK there.”

Price made it sound like he’s dealing with some sort of physical ailment, but was vague.

“There's a lot of stuff going on right now,” the pitcher said when asked about the desire to stay out there. “You don't want it to linger into the next start, or two or three weeks from now, and that's why we did what we did.”

Asked to elaborate, Price reinforced that the decision was to save his body for another day.

“You never want to come out of a game. But you have to look forward at the time,” Price said. “You don’t want today to cost you your next start or you know, the start after that. So that’s what happened.

“It has nothing to do with my elbow or anything like that. This is — you get past one thing and there’s another So that’s what it is.”

Price in New York in early June felt a blister develop on his ring finger. He missed an in-between start bullpen because of it.

Asked about the blister Saturday, Price said, “That one’s gone.”

Farrell indicated the blister was diminished, if not entirely gone.

“He's been dealing with that,” Farrell said. “I think while it's still present and maybe not as severe as it was when it first happened, I'm sure he's going to check on it occasionally."

Red Sox threaten late, but can't come back in 6-3 loss to Angels


Red Sox threaten late, but can't come back in 6-3 loss to Angels

BOSTON - JC Ramirez rebounded from his shortest career start with six solid innings, Cameron Maybin doubled home a run and scored another and the Los Angeles Angels held off the Boston Red Sox 6-3 on Saturday night.

The Angels look for their fifth series win in their last six on Sunday.

Mitch Moreland hit a solo homer for the Red Sox, who lost for only the third time in their last 13 home games.

Ramirez (7-5) allowed one run and four hits with five strikeouts after lasting just three innings and giving up five runs in his previous start.

Blake Parker struck out pinch-hitter Chris Young with the bases loaded for the final out for his first save of the season after Boston scored twice in the ninth.

Red Sox manager John Farrell was ejected by third-base umpire and crew chief Bill Miller after Fernando Abad was called for a balk, scoring a run that made it 5-1 in the seventh.