Sporting a black suit jacket and red tie with black stripes, former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell was reunited with the Boston media Tuesday afternoon.
He gushed about how much of a privilege it is to be the 46th manager in Boston, about 48 hours after the Toronto Blue Jays released him from the same post with a year remaining on his contract.
The Jays on Sunday agreed to send Farrell and pitcher David Carpenter to the Red Sox for utility infielder Mike Aviles, marking the end of Farrell’s two-year run in Toronto.
BoSox pitchers thrive under Farrell
Left-hander Jon Lester had a 54-23 record while new Red Sox manager John Farrell was pitching coach and 15-9 in 2011 but fell to 9-14 with a career-worst 4.82 earned-run average last season.
In his two full, injury-free seasons, Clay Buchholz was 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA in 2010 but 11-8 with a 4.56 ERA in 2012. Felix Doubront, who went 11-10 with a 4.86 ERA as a rookie in 2012, was a top prospect while Farrell was pitching coach.
The Red Sox also get back John Lackey, who missed all of 2012 recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery.
Lester and Buchholz were all-stars while Farrell was pitching coach.
"There are some relationships that I still have with players here, yes," Farrell said. "For others, I have to earn their trust and start new relationships."
Under Farrell's guidance, Boston pitchers held opponents to an American League-low .254 batting average and led the league with 4,771 strikeouts.
— The Associated Press
Farrell, 50, received a three-contract with the Red Sox, who also interviewed San Diego Padres special assistant Brad Ausmus, New York Yankees bench coach Tony Pena, Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach and Baltimore Orioles third base coach DeMarlo Hale.
"To be added to the list of 45 other managers that have gone before me [in Boston], I think it just speaks to the place in history that the Red Sox have, what this organization has represented and in my previous experience here, it has represented nothing but first class, professionalism and, ultimately, success.
"I really feel like we have the chance to hit the ground running. We've got a lot to take care of including staffs, obviously the roster and other things, but I'm honoured and extremely humbled to be standing here today."
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington thanked all the other candidates for their time and co-operation, and Farrell mentioned how honoured he was to be in the mix with those potential managers.
"We think he's the right person to lead the team. It's important that I have a relationship with a manager that's strong. One that we can be candid with one another and walk away knowing that the relationship is still intact," Cherington said. "I feel confident with that and John."
Boston wanted to hire Farrell after it let Terry Francona go a little more than a year ago, but Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos asked for a top player in return. Instead, the Red Sox hired Bobby Valentine and fired him Oct. 4 after the team went 69-93.
"We will give forth our best effort, as a minimum," said Farrell, who was pitching coach in Boston from 2007-10.
The Red Sox wanted him as a known quantity who they've worked well with, a sharp contrast with Valentine, who clashed with players and didn't have full support of management, including Cherington, who preferred Dale Sveum. The Chicago Cubs hired Sveum as their manager after he interviewed with both teams.
Farrell brings a measure of stability to the manager's position and a familiarity with some players. His background with the Red Sox could be particularly valuable in improving the starting rotation.
Familiarity with the team is also something Cherington thinks is a valuable commodity.
"It's important that I have a relationship with the manager that's strong to the point that you can disagree and be candid with one another and walk away knowing that that relationship is still intact," Cherington said. "I feel confident about that with John, based on my existing relationship with him."
Farrell guided the Blue Jays to a 73-89 record this past season, a year after the team posted 81 wins in his rookie campaign. In Toronto, Farrell helped instill a more aggressive approach on the basepaths, but inconsistent pitching, injuries and repeated mistakes running the bases were constant issues.
"As far as what you can expect from us on the field, I truly believe in an aggressive style of play," Farrell said. "That creates a strategy that is relentless, and I think that is critical.
"We brought in a number of young players [in Toronto], and we installed a new running game," Farrell said, looking back on his time with the Blue Jays. "We ran into some outs because of that, and we struggled sometimes with that strategy."
There has been considerable turnover among position players in Boston since Farrell left, but David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury remain. Ortiz, who can become a free agent, has expressed optimism about returning.
"When you look at the roster, there are still some very good major league players here," Farrell said. "We do need to get healthy."
The Monmouth Beach, N.J., native has a pitching background. He broke in with the Indians in 1987 and made 109 starts over eight seasons with Cleveland, California and Detroit, going 36-46 with a 4.56 ERA.
He moved into the coaching ranks in 1997 with Oklahoma State University as an assistant coach and pitching/recruiting co-ordinator. He joined the Indians as director of player development in 2001.
"Managing in the big leagues is not an easy thing as everyone knows," Cherington said. "John is a presence that we need. Very consistent. Strong. His skillset and experience really gives him a chance here."