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John Farrell on D&C: ‘I think this team has the talent to contend and ultimately win this division’

02.13.13 at 9:55 am ET

New Red Sox manager John Farrell stopped by for a visit with Dennis & Callahan from spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., on Wednesday morning, a day after pitchers and catchers reported to start the task of putting a miserable 2012 season behind them.

“I think more than anything, given what this team has come off of over the last year-plus, I think we have a great opportunity in front of us to rewrite the story that’s been the case of recent years,” Farrell said. “And talking to guys throughout the season, whether that was November 1st on, there was a genuine eagerness to put what has happened behind them and get down here and get back on the field and prepare for this season.”

Expectations are low for the Red Sox heading into the 2013 campaign, but Farrell sees hope. Asked if he thinks the Sox can win the AL East, Farrell said: “I do, yes. And that’s fine [that predictions have the Sox finishing fourth or fifth]. People are going to think what they want, project what they care to. But I think this team has got a lot of depth, a lot of talent. There’s balance. When you look at the lineup up and down, there’s speed, there’s power, there’s left-right balance. Our bullpen emerged as a strength of a year ago, and that’s been fortified with [Joel] Hanrahan coming in here.

“We know that the rotation is the area that we’ve got to get more consistent innings, higher number of quality innings from the group of five. You look at any team, the deeper they go into a season contending or into the postseason, large in part is probably because of the performance of that rotation.”

Added Farrell: “I think this team has the talent to contend and ultimately win this division.”

Injuries were devastating to the Sox last year, and two pitchers already are having issues as spring training begins.

“We started off already, Clay [Buchholz] obviously straining the hamstring yesterday, so that’s going to put him out a couple of days. We’ll get a better read on his condition this morning,” Farrell said. “Felix Doubront is probably six days behind the group. He’ll be back on the mound on Monday.”

Daniel Bard had a disastrous 2012 after the team tried to convert him to a starter, but Farrell is confident he can find the form that made Bard one of the game’s top setup men.

“Daniel’s healthy, he’s got a lot of talent. Those are ingredients for him to return to the performance of before,” Farrell said. “I do know this: As we get into spring training and as we get into some of that positive reinforcement or results on the field, it will help build back that confidence that we saw a dominant late-inning reliever. So, the ingredients are there. We’ve just got to put them back in place and get him on track.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

On rules that are important to him: “To be on time. To be accountable to one another, including yourself. And to respect the game. And that’s a broad brush, that respecting the game. Because some people will say, ‘Well, what does that mean?’ The preparation that you go through, the way that you conduct yourself on the field — whether that’s on the mound, with some questionable calls by an umpire, whether that’s what you have on a given day to get down the baseline. And we know because we go every day, some days it’s going to be 90 percent, because for travel or some other reasons. But give what you have on a given day. Those three things are probably my basic rules. And I think that provides the boundaries for everyone to live under.”

On Jon Lester, and the pitcher’s insistence in a recent interview that he did not have a bad season in 2012: “There’s no question he can improve on [last season], and I would think he would probably be one of the first to acknowledge that he can. There were some things that you saw across the field, just to the naked eye. Changes in the delivery took place and it caused some different action to the pitches through the strike zone, and I think resulting in the numbers that were put up. But I do know this: He’s eager to get going. He started making some of those adjustments to his delivery towards the end of last year, and that’s continued through the early throwing here. I think he’s in a good place, setting aside maybe some of the conversation he had the other day.”

On changes to the team’s pitching philosophy: “One of the things that I hope that we get back to is keeping it simple and basic. It’s a matter of attacking the strike zone, two of the first three pitches for strikes, stay in command of the count. Hopefully we’ll work a little bit quicker on the mound. ‘€¦ There’s the old adage of, ‘Work quick, change speeds and throw strikes.’ That’s been a proven, simply philosophy for a quite a long time.”

On what he’d like the fans to know: “You have my word that we are going to work and prepare to put together the best possible game plan on a given night, to make the game the most important focal point on a given day — not anything individually that leads up to it. That’s the message that I hope to convey and establish here. And I think the type of people that are inside this uniform that have been brought in have a track record of that. And I think this will be a team that will be a hard-nosed team that people will identify with.”

On Terry Francona’s book: “I’ve read the excerpts ‘€¦ Looking back on those eight years: eight great years, eight very successful years. ‘€¦ He had a hell of a run here, a lot of success. He’s a great guy and a good friend.”

Read More: Daniel Bard, John Farrell, Jon Lester, Terry Francona
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