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.

Jones-Molina WBC spat is a clash of cultures . . . and that's great

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Jones-Molina WBC spat is a clash of cultures . . . and that's great

The Adam Jones-Yadier Molina verbal skirmish is as predictable as it is annoying.

Was every cultural nuance for the 16 World Baseball Classic teams explained in a booklet the players had to memorize before the tournament?

No? Then it’s amazing there weren’t more moments like this.

Jones, the Orioles outfielder, said Team USA's championship game win over Puerto Rico was motivated by Puerto Rico's choice to plan a post-tournament parade for the team before the final game.

As Jones was raised, parades in pro sports are for championship teams. Red Sox fans are likely aware of this.

As Jones was raised, discussing a parade before a title is secured suggests overconfidence. Rex Ryan fans are likely aware of this.

After an 8-0 win for the U.S., Jones revealed the parade was used as bulletin-board material.

"Before the game, we got a note that there was some championship shirts made -- we didn't make 'em -- and a flight [arranged],” Jones said. “That didn't sit well with us. And a parade -- it didn't sit well with us."

But apparently, Jones didn't know the full context of the parade. It was reportedly planned regardless of whether Puerto Rico won.

One Team USA teammate of Jones whom CSNNE spoke with didn't believe that, however.

"It was called a champions parade that got turned into a celebration parade once they lost," the player said. "I think they just don't like getting called out by Jones, but all Jones did was tell exactly what happened."

Jones’ comments weren’t received well.

Puerto Rico's going through a trying time, a recession, and the entire island rallied behind the team.

“Adam Jones . . . is talking about things he doesn't know about," Molina told ESPN’s Marly Rivera. "He really has to get informed because he shouldn't have said those comments, let alone in public and mocking the way [preparations] were made.”

No one should be upset Jones explained what he was thinking.

Jones actually asked MLB Network host Greg Amsinger, “Should I tell the truth?”

Yes. It’s better than lying.

Look at the reactions across the WBC: the bat flips, the raw emotion. Honesty conveyed via body language.

People in the U.S. are starting to accept and crave those reactions. The WBC helped promote a basic idea: let people be themselves.

Jones said what was on his mind. We can’t celebrate bat flips and then say Jones should keep his mouth shut.

But there's an unreasonable expectation being placed on Jones here.

He heard about a parade -- which is to say, a subject he wouldn't normally think twice about or investigate before a championship baseball game.

Plus, it gave him motivation.

Why is Jones, or anyone with Team USA, more responsible for gaining an advance understanding of Puerto Rico’s parade-planning conventions -- we're talking about parade planning! -- than Puerto Rico is responsible for keeping U.S. norms in mind when making and/or talking about those plans?

No one involved here was thinking about the other’s perception or expectation. It's impossible to always do so.

But that’s how these moments develop: what’s obvious to one party is outlandish to the other.

Now Molina, Puerto Rico's catcher, wants an apology.

"He has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people," Molina told ESPN. "Obviously, you wanted to win; he didn't know what this means to [our] people."

Jones can clear the air with an apology, but he doesn't owe one. And he definitely doesn't owe one after Molina took it a step further.

"I'm sending a message to [Jones], saying, 'Look at this, right now you're in spring training working out, and we're with our people, with our silver medals,' " Molina said. "You're in spring training and you're working . . . you have no idea how to celebrate your honors, you don't know what it means.”

Team USA had no parade. Manager Jim Leyland made clear how the U.S. was celebrating, by recognizing those serving the country.

The silver lining here is how much attention the WBC has drawn, and how much conversation it can drive. People care, a great sign for the sport -- and its potential to foster better understanding across cultures.

Internationally, the sport is on parade.

Wright extends scoreless streak to 9 1/3 innings in Red Sox' 10-7 win over Pirates

Wright extends scoreless streak to 9 1/3 innings in Red Sox' 10-7 win over Pirates

The angst surrounding the David Price- and (possibly) Drew Pomeranz-less Red Sox starting rotation may have eased a little -- or a lot -- on Thursday.

Steven Wright extended his string of scoreless spring-training innings to 9 1/3 by blanking the Pirates for 4 1/3 innings in his third spring-traing start, leading the Sox to a 10-7 victory over the Pirates at SkyBlue Park.

Red Sox-Pirates box score

Wright allowed two hits -- the only two hits he's allowed this spring -- with one walk and three strikeouts.

Several of his pitching brethren, notably Heath Hembree and Robbie Ross Jr., didn't fare nearly as well. (See box score above.) But the Sox -- using what may be their regular-season batting order for the first time -- bailed them out with a 16-hit attack, led by Dustin Pedroia (3-for-3, now hitting ,500 for the spring). Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and, yes, Pablo Sandoval each added two hits. Sandoval also drove in three runs and is now hitting .362.

Xander Bogaerts went 1-for-4 in his return to the Sox from the World Baseball Classic.