Blue Jays manager John Farrell empathizes with Bobby Valentine
Toronto manager John Farrell feels for Boston manager Bobby Valentine in a disappointing season for both injury-filled teams.
Amid speculation that he could be considered to take over the Red Sox if Valentine is let go, the Blue Jays skipper said Friday night he's concentrating on his current job.
"I don't look at other situations because my focus is here," said Farrell, Boston's pitching coach from 2006-10. "We've got a lot of challenges ourselves with getting guys back on the field. So I can tell you this. Knowing what the Red Sox have gone through, the amount of players that they've lost to injury, I can empathize with Bobby."
Toronto began the day in last place in the AL East with a 61-75 record, 15 1-2 games out of first. The Red Sox were one spot ahead of the Blue Jays at 63-75.
Boston was interested in Farrell after Terry Francona was let go as manager after last season, but hiring him would have required compensation to Toronto. That's still the case, with Farrell having one year left on his three-year contract. Valentine is in the first year of a two-year deal and has had disagreements with several players.
Farrell is aware of speculation that he might be a candidate in Boston.
"As I said last week in Toronto, I'm the manager of the Blue Jays," he said. "I can understand the natural connection because I've worked here in the past, but my focus is clearly with the Blue Jays.
"I don't let speculation come in to how I prepare for tonight."
Farrell was surrounded in the dugout by about two dozen media members, many more than he deals with in Toronto. Such scrutiny adds to the demands on a Red Sox manager and could make his job tougher.
"I wouldn't know that. I've never managed in Boston," Farrell said. "Having worked in Boston, sure, there's a tremendous fan base that is very passionate. The expectations are always very high, but, as a competitor, that's what you aspire to do."
The Red Sox returned home after going 1-8 on a West Coast trip. On Wednesday, Valentine threatened during a radio interview over the phone to punch a Boston talk-show host who had asked him if he had "checked out" of the season.
He insisted later he wasn't serious, but his comments added to the drama surrounding a team that recently made a blockbuster trade, sending Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Valentine said Friday it's easy to block out such distractions.
"If you're 30 games [ahead] in first place and you start reading and listening to everyone say how great you are, it's just as distracting as the opposite, which is the case right now," he said.
Asked about the mood of the team now that it's back home after a day off, he said, "I'm hoping they got the lousy taste of all those losses out of their mouths on the off day."
Farrell coached for five seasons under Francona.
"The one thing that Tito always talked about was be true to yourself and as long as you could look yourself in the mirror and did what you felt was the right thing to do, and that being the players come first," Farrell said, "you probably are guided in the right direction to do the right thing."
The rosters of both teams have been affected by several key injuries.
"I have empathy for what's going on [in Boston] because we've dealt with probably an equal number of injuries to marquee players, to a rotation and, as a result, you have to always deal with change," Farrell said.
Both teams, he said, have gone way beyond Plan A and B.
"I think both teams are in plan about T or U," Farrell said.