Tag: John Farrell

John Farrell’s Contract Option Picked Up by Red Sox: Latest Details, Reaction

The Boston Red Sox won the American League East in 2016 under John Farrell, and the organization decided Monday to keep the manager around a bit longer. 

The Red Sox announced they exercised the club option on Farrell’s contract for the 2018 season.

Travis Lee of WMTW noted the Red Sox had already told Farrell he would return for the 2017 season. Monday’s news ensures the manager won’t have to worry about serving as a leader with lame-duck status as the team looks to win a second World Series title under his watch.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday at the winter meetings that Farrell’s “solid presence” and the fact the “players played hard for him” ultimately contributed to the decision, per Scott Lauber of ESPN.com.

The 2017 campaign will be Farrell’s fifth as manager of the Red Sox. The team is 339-309 under him in four years.

Things started as well as he could have possibly hoped with an American League East crown and World Series championship in 2013. However, there was a significant drop-off the following two seasons before a bounce-back effort in 2016:

Farrell also managed the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011 and 2012 and accumulated a 154-170 record before Boston hired its former pitching coach with one year remaining on his Toronto contract. The Red Sox sent infielder Mike Aviles to the Blue Jays as compensation (and received pitcher David Carpenter), per ESPN.com.

Boston was swept by the eventual American League champion Cleveland Indians in the divisional round of the 2016 playoffs, but Monday’s news means there will be continuity in the dugout for a club that has a number of young building blocks, including 24-year-old Mookie Betts, 26-year-old Jackie Bradley Jr. and 24-year-old Xander Bogaerts.

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John Farrell to Return as Red Sox Manager: Latest Contract Details, Reaction

Despite being swept out of the 2016 American League Division Series by the Cleveland Indians, the Boston Red Sox reaffirmed their commitment to manager John Farrell on Tuesday. 

Dave Dombrowski, the team’s president of baseball operations, announced Farrell will stay with the team in 2017, according to Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe.

In February 2015, the Red Sox extended Farrell’s deal to keep him on board through the 2017 season, with an option for 2018. Dombrowski declined to say whether Boston will exercise that option.

“Something of that magnitude I need to sit down with ownership and discuss that,” he said, according to Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald.

While the Red Sox finished the regular season with a 93-69 record, their postseason exit led to some criticism of Farrell’s handling of his team.

In particular, many questioned his decision to pinch-hit Chris Young for Andrew Benintendi in the bottom of the seventh inning in Game 3 of the ALDS. While Young walked during the at-bat, Boston was without Benintendi to lead off the bottom of the ninth as it looked to come back from a 4-3 deficit.

Boston.com’s Chad Finn was among those who thought Farrell made a big mistake:

Eric Wilbur of Boston.com thought the ALDS as a whole helped to illustrate the gulf between Farrell and a tactically astute manger such as the Indians’ Terry Francona:

Yet, this series perhaps exposed Farrell’s shortcomings as a big league manager all the same. You could give him and [Francona] two seats to deal with, and Farrell would probably still lose playing musical chairs to his old friend.

Farrell doesn’t have to stay because of the success that the Red Sox found this year, winning the American league East after back-to-back last-place finishes. He needs to go because of the continued promise of watching his in-game decisions backfire, and particularly after watching Francona manage circles around him, almost as if he were in his pickup willingly doing donuts on Farrell’s own manicured lawn.

In August, Abraham also took issue with how Farrell handled Red Sox pitchers:

Farrell also has had less of an effect on the pitching staff than you would have expected from an accomplished former pitching coach. Certainly, he needs to respect boundaries and let coaches do their jobs. But Farrell should be having more direct impact on somebody like David Price.

As a pitching coach, Farrell was an authority figure with the pitchers to a point that some feared him. He was their boss. As the manager, he seems too much like their protector.

Expectations will be high for the Red Sox in 2017, yet it’s doubtful a slow start to next year would result in Farrell’s firing in the first few months. The team hasn’t fired a manager in the middle of a season since Jimy Williams in 2001. Even Bobby Valentine finished out a disastrous 2012 campaign before losing his job.

With only one more guaranteed year left on his deal, Farrell will be under heavy pressure to deliver. Anything short of a trip to the American League Championship Series could put his job in serious jeopardy.

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David Price Right at Home with Boston Red Sox Thanks in Large Part to Big Papi

FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Price will be the third Opening Day starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox in the past three seasons Tuesday in Cleveland.

Boston hopes Price will be the man for that job for the next seven years, and his biggest fan on the 2016 team may be one of his biggest former enemies, David Ortiz.

It turns out Ortiz also gave his blessing when the Red Sox asked him about pursuing the dominant lefty as a free agent. But the two new teammates once enjoyed a public and mutual professional scorn.

Their open acrimony surfaced during the 2013 American League Division Series. It intensified in May 2014, when Price plunked the Red Sox DH during their first matchup of the season.

Ortiz referred to their hostilities as “war” and called Price “a little b—h.” Price objected and said Ortiz “looks like he’s bigger than the game of baseball.”

That was then.

This is now.

Millions witnessed images of their bromantic clubhouse hug on Feb. 22, posted by the Red Sox on social media.

“With the hug, there was media everywhere. I mean, he wasn’t going to punch me or act mad,” said Price, who admitted he had been nervous about meeting Ortiz as a teammate.

But few outside of Price and Ortiz saw what truly made him feel like he was a friend and teammate of Ortiz, and by extension, a bona fide member of the Red Sox.

It was an unexpected but welcome text message.

“The biggest thing, and this is the first time I’ve said it, was probably a week or two after that hug. We had a day game. I’m home. It’s probably nine o’clock at night. David just sends me a text,” Price told Bleacher Report in an exclusive clubhouse interview.

“He’s asking me: ‘How are things going? Is there anything [I] can do to make it better?’ He wanted to know if there was anything he could do to make this process go more smoothly. That text he sent me that night, while he’s at home with the family. To do that, it was special.”

For Ortiz, the text message was a natural extension of him being the team’s in-house leader and a star in the final year of his career with dreams of one more World Series.

“There’s no way you can win by yourself. I can’t pitch. I have no clue about pitching,” Ortiz acknowledged with a laugh. “David is our ace. I want him to do well. I want him to feel comfortable.”

“I know how everything works around here. I wanted to make sure everything was going well with him at the time. And if there’s anything he would like to know, when it comes down to putting up with the media and the stuff around here, I wanted him to feel open to call me and ask me any type of questions. I’m wide open for it. I want him to be peaceful.”

As Big Papi knows all too well, finding that peace in a city like Boston is a different story.

“He’s a quiet guy. He’s not a guy who likes the attention much. Playing here, there’s no way you can stay away from it. So I wanted him to know that if he ever had any questions or problems, he could hit me up.”

Ortiz hasn’t been simply reacting to Price’s arrival with hugs and text messages during spring training; he was helping to facilitate his acquisition in the offseason.

“When you add someone like David to your starting rotation, you’re going to add a lot of W’s. The [Red Sox] organization let me know they were chasing him,” Ortiz said.

“They asked me, and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, oh yeah, we need him.’ You saw how bad we struggled with pitching last year. And you know that making a move to sign a guy like Price is not an easy move to make. There’s a lot of money involved. Once something like that happens, you already know that you’re going to have an ace.”

Ortiz reassured what was once a “war” in 2014 is now nothing more than a one-off moment of the past.

“That incident happened between me and David one time. But I did my homework. I asked around about David. Everybody loves him. We got to know each other. He’s a super nice guy. You see everything he does. You look at his Twitter account. There’s no way you can have any issues with that guy.”

With Ortiz’s support both in the clubhouse and at the plate, all the 6’5″ Price must do now is justify his $217 million contract—the largest ever given to a pitcher.

Price was MLB‘s premier free-agent pitcher this offseason, going 18-5 with an AL-best 2.45 ERA in 220.1 innings for Detroit and Toronto in 2015. In December, he signed with Boston through 2022, though the deal includes an opt-out clause after the 2018 season.

The citizenry of Red Sox Nation watched the so-called “five aces” of Boston’s 2015 rotation transform into a house of cards last summer. Boston’s mudslide in the standings was triggered in large part by a mysterious elbow injury to Clay Buchholz that ended his season on July 10.

No one on the Red Sox payroll questions Price’s role as the team’s “ace” this season.

“Everything has been as advertised,” manager John Farrell said of Price. “He’s shown his leadership qualities and personality in the clubhouse. [At times this spring], his command was almost midseason form, as well as he was following the glove around the strike zone.”

“His willingness to take some young left-handed starters under his wing—Eduardo Rodriguez and Henry Owens particularly—to impart some of his experiences on them. David Price has been everything we have hoped for to date. David has been a very good presence in our clubhouse and a very good teammate.”

Dave Dombrowski, Boston’s president of baseball operations, acquired Price when he was the general manager in Detroit. Dombrowski knew the opportunity to bring him to Boston could not be missed, despite the historic price tag.

“He brings to your rotation and your club a big presence as the No. 1 guy. And he is legitimately that. No. 1 starters are not easy to find. He also brings the intangible aspects. The worth ethic. The leadership. He’s really the whole package. To have someone like that in the organization is a real plus.”

Price is also aware of any bullpen’s limitations, even with Boston’s addition of closer Craig Kimbrel and setup man Carson Smith (currently on the disabled list).

“I expect to go nine and get 27 outs every time I step on that mound,” he said. “I take a lot of pride to give those relievers that day off. I’d rather go eight and give up one run, than go six and give up none.”

One of Price’s former proteges, Toronto pitcher Marcus Stroman, said he’s “given about 30 million interviews” on Price this spring. But he is still quick to laud Price as both a huge role model and mentor.

“I try to take down how he went about his business on and off the field, and how he treated everyone. He’s a true leader. A true ace. I was just lucky to play with him as long as I did. He’s a friend that I’ll have forever.”

And Price is still dispensing advice to one-time Rays teammate Chris Archer.

Boston has seen many of its recent splurges in free agency backfire. Look no further than $90 million signing and current bench player Pablo Sandoval.

But Price is far more prepared for the best and worst of what Boston can offer, according to Dombrowski.

“If you’re going to invest those type of dollars, you want that player to bring everything to the table. I had the pleasure and fortune of being with him in Detroit. I thought he’d be able to handle the Boston spotlight. He can handle it. And he has no difficulty with the communications and intellectual aspect of it.”

So what is the difference between the David Price who closed out Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS against the Red Sox and the David Price now carrying the hopes of a beleaguered Boston fanbase?

After all, it’s been 14 whole months since the city’s last duck boat parade.

“I had two pitches then, a straight fastball and a slider. I didn’t have the fastball command that I needed. My velocity allowed me to get away with a few more mistakes. I threw a good amount of sliders that night. That was my best pitch coming out of college,” Price said.

“I probably threw two changeups in college [Vanderbilt], and maybe five before I got to the big leagues. I realized very quickly that it doesn’t matter how hard you throw at this level. You have to be able to locate and change speeds. I take pride in being able to make adjustments on the fly.”

Price began developing a changeup in 2009, and he picked up the one he uses today back in 2011 courtesy of then-teammate James Shields.

“It’s a feel pitch, but you have to have trust in it,” Price said. “You’ve got to throw it. You’ve got to take it to the game. I don’t care how good it is in the bullpen; you’re not going to have confidence in that pitch unless you go and throw it in a game.

“Where you get that first swing and miss, or that first ball off the end of the bat for a ground ball, that’s going to give you confidence to throw that first pitch in a big situation.”

Ortiz carries a .250 average with nine strikeouts and just two of his 503 career home runs in 54 plate appearances against Price. He cites Price’s “experience” as the biggest factor in his evolution as a pitcher.

“Here’s a guy with the same stuff. More experience. That’s dangerous,” Ortiz said. “Before, he would try to overpower [you]. Now, he uses his power when he wants. He can throw the ball wherever he wants.”

“You don’t need nothing else. You can be powerful and have three different pitches, but if you don’t throw the ball where you want it, that gets you in trouble. Now, he’s got both power and super-extraordinary control.”

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is fifth among active players with 58 at-bats (.276/.358/.431) against Price. None of those 58 were ever easy.

“Whenever you face him, you’ve got your hands full. He’s the kind of guy who will take the ball in a big game. He’s going to be extremely important to us.”

Price has pitched for three AL East champions and is 49-21 against division foes with a 3.15 ERA. He’s been even more effective in Fenway Park, going 6-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 11 career regular-season starts.

This familiarity with division and league opponents breeds both contempt and, eventually, respect. Big Papi may be the well-known feud, but this isn’t the first time Price has turned an enemy into a friend.

“I couldn’t stand Ian Kinsler. I told him that,” Price said. “Then I got to play with him [in Detroit]. Now, Ian’s in my top five of guys I’ve played with and enjoyed being around. Ian’s a really good dude.”

Ortiz has experienced the same change of heart many times before.

“When you haven’t played with someone, in between those two lines, they don’t have to look nice for me. They’re trying to get their job done. A lot of players judge other players on what they see without knowing the guy,” he said.

“I don’t like him for his body language, or whatever he does out there, but once I was in the room with him all the time, and I got to know the guy. I see the intensity in the guy. How he goes about his business. And then, boom, then you get to know the guy.”

Price also knows Boston and his contract will inevitably send a social media barrage his way, but he has scaled back on his interaction of late.

“One third of it’s going to be positive. One third of it will be negative and one third will be about fantasy baseball,” he said. “I don’t read a whole lot of tweets. I’ve gotten a lot more lately and a lot of the decisions I’ve made lately have gotten some people mad. But that’s part of it.”

Jared Carrabis, a Red Sox fan-turned-blogger for the past 10 years, was once an ardent “Twitter troll” of Price. Later, his digital courtship of Price earned Carrabis an infamous “bunk beds” mention during Price’s introductory press conference in Boston.

Carrabis’ reaction to Price coming to Boston was typical among diehard Red Sox fans.

“It felt like a concussion grenade went off when I saw the tweet. I remember my brain actually going numb and hearing that ringing sound in my ears that you get after leaving a concert. I think that was what it feels like to literally have your mind blown,” Carrabis said.

Price hopes to continue converting past haters by winning a World Series in Boston, or seven. He is resolute about ending his “winless as a starter in the postseason” drought this October. His regular season was delayed for a day by bad weather as Monday’s scheduled opener was postponed. 

“I know good things are going to come to me in October baseball. It just hasn’t happened…yet. I’ve thrown the ball well in some games. You’ve got to have some of those hard-hit balls at people. The balls you execute, and there’s weak contact, you’ve got to have that play made and not for that ball to fall into no-man’s land, or to be hit in just the right spot.”

“My time is coming. Is it frustrating? Absolutely. Winning in the playoffs is something I want to do. It’s something I’m capable of doing. Hopefully, this year, we can get going and start a streak on the right side.”

And Ortiz and the rest of Price’s new Red Sox teammates will be there to watch his back.


All quotes were obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report unless otherwise specified.

Bill Speros is an award-winning journalist who first covered the Red Sox in 1987. He Tweets at @RealOBF and @BillSperos.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

John Farrell’s Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in Remission

Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell has been away from the team since Aug. 14 after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but terrific news trickled in Thursday when the organization announced his cancer is in remission.     

Farrell expressed his happiness with the update Thursday in a statement, per ESPN.com

I am extremely thankful for the outpouring of support I have received from the Red Sox, my family, friends, and fans throughout this process. I am also especially thankful for the talented doctors who cared for me in Detroit and here at [Massachusetts General Hospital]. I look forward to getting back to work and bringing another championship back to Boston.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski also released a statement on behalf of the franchise, according to ESPN.com: “We are thrilled to hear the great news about John today. Foremost, we are extremely happy for him and his family, knowing what he has gone through over the past two months. We all admire him for his strength and courage and look forward to having him back as our manager.”

Farrell was absent for the final 48 games of the regular season following his diagnosis, and bench coach Torey Lovullo temporarily replaced him as the head honcho in the dugout.  

However, the Red Sox have made it abundantly clear the 53-year-old will return as manager next season despite the team’s 78-84 record and last-place finish in the AL East in 2015. 

“The commitment is made to John, he’ll be our manager for 2016, he should be fine,” Dombrowski said earlier this month, according to ESPN.com’s Gordon Edes

With his health steadily improving, Farrell can now set his sights on helping the Red Sox piece together a resurgent 2016 campaign.  

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John Farrell Will Manage Red Sox in 2016, Torey Lovullo Returning as Bench Coach

Sunday will conclude a second straight losing season for the Boston Red Sox, but manager John Farrell‘s prior success is keeping him at the helm in 2016.

The Red Sox announced Farrell is returning to the dugout next year, along with bench coach Torey Lovullo and other assistants:

As Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reported, Lovullo has been rewarded with a two-year contract extension and has foregone the right to pursue a managerial position with a different team. Edes indicated Farrell’s health is a big reason Lovullo is being retained.

Lovullo has been filling in for Farrell since August, when the skipper was diagnosed with lymphoma. Stunned when Farrell told him about the illness before it became public knowledge, Lovullo explained how Farrell was optimistic about Boston’s future despite the ominous circumstances, per Edes:

I didn’t say anything for about 10 seconds, and he said, ‘Hey are you there? Are you OK?’ In true John Farrell fashion he just said, ‘Hey, I’m going to be OK. We’re going to make it through this and we’re going to come out the other end. We’re going to have a great year this year, we’re going to have a great year next year. There’s no other option.’

What Farrell said is starting to come to fruition, as he was discharged from the hospital Thursday after completing his last round of chemotherapy. During his interim stint, Lovullo has posted an exceptional 28-19 record ahead of Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Cleveland Indians.

High Heat Stats MLB notes Boston’s drastic improvement since Lovullo took over, albeit over the span of far fewer games:

Farrell won a World Series title in 2013, his first year with the Red Sox. The results haven’t been as positive since, but a regime change headed by new President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski, Farrell’s inspiring recovery and the club’s performance under Lovullo provide reason to believe Boston will turn it around this next season.

The Red Sox extended Farrell’s contract through 2017 with a club option for the following year this February. Provided his health holds up and the team factors into the playoff hunt, it’s likely he will experience a remarkable resurgence in 2016 and bolster his job security.

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10 Biggest Takeaways from Week 19’s MLB Action

This week brought teams to their 50-game marks, signaling the stretch run for the 10 postseason spots and Major League Baseball’s exciting scoreboard watching.

But Week 19 of this season brought us more than just wins, losses and jockeying in the standings. It brought us stupid quotes from a floundering team, a stupid decision from a franchise with an already spotty track record and more trade rumors, among other happenings.

The Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays and St. Louis Cardinals showed they will be forces through the season’s final turn. The Washington Nationals and Houston Astros showed they are vulnerable, and the San Francisco Giants took us back to the simpler times of the late ’80s and early ’90s.

More important than all of that, Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell announced Friday he was fighting a “highly curable” form of cancer and will not coach the team for the remainder of the season. He learned he had lymphoma earlier in the week, and chemotherapy will start next week.

The Farrell news is the latest in an eventful MLB week. We wrap it all up here in Bleacher Report’s 10 takeaways from Week 19.

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John Farrell, Red Sox Manager, Diagnosed with Lymphoma

Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell announced Friday that he has been diagnosed with lymphoma. 

WEEI tweeted out the news directly from Farrell:

WHDH-TV in Boston passed along the manager’s full statement:

Per Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, Farrell will begin chemotherapy Tuesday at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and bench coach Torey Lovullo will manage the team for the remainder of this season.

Farrell described the lymphoma as “localized and highly curable,” per NESN

“We’re going to give him the support, like he gives to us, always,” said David Ortiz, per the team

Ortiz added more on Farrell and how he heard the news, per John Tomase of WEEI:

Pretty much all of us were in shock. When they mention the word cancer, it’s something that doesn’t matter what it comes from, it’s going to impact you. We’re going to give John the support that we can give him so he can get through this and be back next year, back to normal.

Hopefully everything goes well for him. We’ve got a big family around here and definitely when it comes down to health issues, you want to make sure that everything goes OK. The organization has taken a lot of responsibility on that, to make sure that John gets through it, the way it’s supposed to be.

Another of Farrell’s players, Dustin Pedroia, added, per the team“Your heart just stops. Obviously, anybody in that room would do anything for John. We know he’s going to get through this, and we’ll all get through it together, and do anything to help him out.”  

Farrell added about his club, “When they show that support, it’s meaningful.”

Earlier in the week, Farrell missed Tuesday’s game against Miami after undergoing hernia surgery. The manager said the lymphoma was first detected during that surgery, according the NESN report.

Farrell started his coaching career as Boston’s pitching coach in 2007, winning a World Series with the club in his first season, before taking over as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011. 

After he spent two years in Toronto, the Boston brass brought Farrell back to the Red Sox as manager prior to the 2013 campaign. He helped lead the franchise to a surprise World Series title in 2013, winning 97 games in the regular season after 69 victories in 2012.  

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

5 Biggest Takeaways from Week 5’s MLB Action

Each week of baseball’s regular season brings any number of fascinating news, noteworthy developments and/or curious behavior.

The week that is about to conclude, Week 5, has been no different—and there’s still part of the weekend left for something else to happen.

In the meantime, here are a handful of the biggest takeaways from the goings-on of the past seven days.

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John Farrell, Red Sox Agree to New Contract: Latest Details, Comments, Reaction

The Boston Red Sox and manager John Farrell have had a fruitful relationship in their two years together. As a result, the two sides have reportedly decided to extend their marriage for at least two more seasons. 

Per Ian Browne of MLB.com, the Red Sox announced a two-year contract extension with Farrell through 2017 that includes a team option for 2018:

The Red Sox have put their faith in manager John Farrell, extending his contract through the 2017 season with an option for ’18, the club announced on Saturday morning. 

Before signing the extension, Farrell’s contract was set to expire following this season, though it included a club option for ’16.

Even though the 2014 season was a disaster for the Red Sox, finishing 71-91 one year after winning the World Series, Farrell’s history with the franchise has made him a natural fit since he took over two years ago. 

Farrell was a pitching coach in Boston from 2007-10 before taking the managerial job in Toronto for two years. There may be some cynics out there asking what he has done to warrant this kind of security. After all, per WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Show, he’s had only one great year record-wise:

There is more to managing than just what happens on the field, though. Farrell provided a sense of calm during last year’s struggles, saying in a June interview with Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com that it’s important to remain rational through tough times.

“To me, when things are not turning out as we like, there has to be some sense of stability, some sense of calm,” Farrell said. “And if we’re all over the map, that can only compound it. I’m a firm believer in that.”

Those comments had to stick in the minds of Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and owner John Henry, especially considering how quickly they saw the ship sink in 2012, when Bobby Valentine was manager. 

Farrell’s extension gives the Red Sox players a sense of confidence, knowing their manager isn’t going anywhere, and the team is poised to bounce back after a busy offseason that saw the addition of talents like Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez and Rick Porcello. 

It’s tough to find success in the American League East because all five teams are bunched so close together. The Red Sox are much better than their record last year indicated and are kicking off this spring ready to prove it. 

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