Hazen remembers Farrell during time with Indians

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Hazen remembers Farrell during time with Indians

BOSTON Mike Hazen was an intern in the Indians scouting department when John Farrell was hired as the organizations farm director in 2001.

The way he walks into a room, said Hazen, now Red Sox assistant general manager, when asked of his first impression of Farrell. The commanding presence, his intelligence, his ability to communicate a message.

Commanded a tremendous amount of respect, intelligent, held his staff accountable, held his players accountable, developed a system, a philosophy. While it was developed there he oversaw it, took it over, and really probably sowed the seeds for that 2007 Indians team that we faced in the LCS.

All of that, along with Farrell's experience and familiarity with the Red Sox, went into his selection as the teams new manager. But Hazen didnt initially see him as a future manager. He had another job in mind for Farrell.

GM, Hazen said. But when I got over here some of the conversations that we had, knowing that he had a desire to get on the field as well, and then as a pitching coach and certainly he had a tremendous amount of talent and ability to do that as well. You could see he could probably do anything he wants in the game. Thats what makes him pretty unique in this situation.

Farrell was the Sox pitching coach for four seasons, from 2007-2010, before leaving to manage the Blue Jays for two seasons. The Sox attempted to hire him away from the Blue Jays last year, after Terry Francona was fired following the collapse of September 2011. But the Sox advances were rebuffed by the Jays. This time, though, they were not turned away.

Its gratifying to have Farrell back in the organization, Hazen said, but that was not why they got him.

Look, this is a business, said Hazen. Its not about personal gratification in any way shape or form. Johns the right man to be the manager of the Red Sox. Its great because I've known him for so long and I think thats important. Its not gratification. Its the comfort knowing that we can start right in having the conversations that we need to have, knowing that in order for this to turn around theres a lot of tough questions that need to be asked by the manager to the front office and so on down the line.

Knowing that everyone is on the same page is vital because, for the second consecutive offseason, the Sox will be attempting to turn the page on a season.

I think its important. I think more than anything else, Hazen said. I think the conversations that have to happen are taking place right away, and not the easy conversations either. The tough conversations, mining down through exactly what happened to get us where we were last year. And that may be questioning roster decisions, the current state of the roster, player performance, role of the coaching staff, all of the things from the teaching aspect of it to the contributions of the farm system or lack thereof that went into last season.

Its extremely important for us to be able to turn the page on 2012 and for John to be able to start having those conversations and those challenging conversations, I think its only going to help us.

While there has been tremendous turnover on the roster since Farrell was last in a Red Sox uniform, there is still a core group of players from his tenure -- Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and free agent David Ortiz who is discussing a return with the Red Sox. That familiarity will help Farrell launch his new role.

Im assuming the conversations that John is having with the players right now, that hes having with GM Ben Cherington and us right now take a different tone when you have that prior relationship," Hazen said. "Theres not a lot of getting to know or wondering what the other persons thinking. Look, thats not going to translate into wins but it can definitely start the process of evaluations and where were at today, which is not where we want to be.

And the Red Sox will have a lot of work to do on their roster this offseason. Hazen and Cherington will be looking to Farrell for input on those kinds of decisions.

A lot, not necessarily in the ability to pull the trigger on something but certainly in his contacts and evaluation from across the field, his makeup information, what he knows about that player, is that player one that has the ability to come play in Boston, Hazen said. Those are key components to a lot of the evaluation.

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

PHOENIX - Major League Baseball intends to push forward with the process that could lead to possible rule changes involving the strike zone, installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitcher's mound. While baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope the ongoing process would lead to an agreement, he said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Union head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union - unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.

"Unfortunately it now appears that there really won't be any meaningful change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA," Manfred said Tuesday during a news conference. "I've tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture."

Yet, he also added: "I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change."

Manfred said while he prefers an agreement, "I'm also not willing to walk away." He said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreement.

Clark met with Cactus League teams last week, five at a time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before departing Monday for Florida to visit each Grapefruit League club - and proposed rules changes were a topic.

"I have great respect for the labor relations process, and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done with the MLBPA," Manfred said. "I have to admit, however, that I am disappointed that we could not even get the MLBPA to agree to modest rule changes like limits on trips to the mound that have little effect on the competitive character of the game."

Clark saw talks differently.

"Unless your definition of `cooperation' is blanket approval, I don't agree that we've failed to cooperate with the commissioner's office on these issues," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this offseason we've been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened. I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don't continue, notwithstanding today's comments about implementation. As I've said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open."

Clark added "my understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2-minute limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of game warning/fine adjustments."

Manfred said he didn't want to share specifics of his priorities for alterations.

"There's a variety of changes that can be undertaken," Manfred said. "I'm committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in private."

MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level - at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play - they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons.

Players also have been against limiting mound meetings. The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the union's agreement- such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a review.

"Most of this stuff that they were talking about I don't think it would have been a major adjustment for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule "beneficial in developmental leagues."

Manfred also said Tuesday that a renovated Wrigley Field would be a great choice to host an All-Star Game and Las Vegas could be a "viable market for us."

"I don't think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city," Manfred said.

Bulpett: Ainge 'really protective' of ability to go to free agency this summer

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Steve Bulpett joins Mike Felger to weigh in on the NBA trade deadline and the lack of moves made by Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics thus far.