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John Farrell says ‘it’s likely’ Shane Victorino returns to switch-hitting this season 02.26.15 at 3:29 pm ET
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Shane Victorino is on track to return to switch-hitting in 2015. (Getty Images)

Shane Victorino is on track to return to switch-hitting in 2015. (Getty Images)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — If all goes as planned, Shane Victorino will return to switch-hitting this season.

Red Sox manager John Farrell said Thursday that he and the staff have talked to the outfielder about the plan, which will include spring training at-bats from the left side of the plate.

Victorino gave up hitting left-handed late in the 2013 season when he injured his hip running into a wall while chasing a fly ball along the right field line.

“It’s likely that he hits left-handed in games,” Farrell said. “If you think back to ’13 late in the year, he switched solely to the right side because of some physical restrictions. With those being freed up now, the left side of the plate comes back into play.”

In 2014, force to hit right-handed against right-handed pitching, he managed to bat just .241 with a .283 on-base percentage in 90 plate appearances over 27 games. Lifetime, Victorino is .268 hitter with a .329 on-base percentage as a left-handed batter against right-handed pitching.

Farrell said the work will begin as soon as possible so Victorino can get up to game speed with left-handed hitting.

“Every guy is going to be a little bit different. He’s going to take all the extra work that he can physically tolerate. I think until we get into games, it’ll probably be a better read on how many number of at-bats left-handed it would require [in spring training]. But if you think about two years ago in ’13 in spring training, I don’t know if he got a hit in spring training. Open up in New York, he’s got three line drive base hits the first day of season. So again, it’s a matter of getting comfortable with that side of the plate, taking some pitches and taking some at-bats. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, John Farrell, MLB
John Farrell doesn’t think David Ortiz has target on his back: ‘He’ll adhere to the rules’ at 2:27 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — While infield coach Brian Butterfield was going over bunt fielding drills with his pitchers and infielders Thursday morning outside JetBlue Park, John Farrell spent a good 20 minutes with David Ortiz.

The manager stood and listened to Ortiz reiterate what he told reporters on Wednesday about his concerns and complaints about the new rules designed to speed up play, designed specifically to keep batters like Ortiz in the batters box and keep them from slowing the game down. Ortiz was articulate and animated as always in relaying his feelings to the skipper.

And Farrell came away thinking everything will be just fine when the season gets underway.

“I think he’ll adhere to the rules,” Farrell said. “And I think anytime we’re going through some subtle changes or some adjustments to the pace of game or instant replay, there’s going to be some growing pains. We fully anticipate that. I think it’s important that we all give this a chance to come to fruition a little bit and see how it may or may not affect the flow of a game or an individual routine at the plate. And I think that’s what’s important here, is that there’s a personal routine at the plate or on the mound that is part of the natural flow of the game. Some might consider that flow slow but I think that’s important that it’s preserved because that’s what puts a player, hitter or pitcher, in the right frame of mind to execute what he’s trying to get done.”

There was a report Wednesday night, after Ortiz’s very public comments, that MLB will not only consider aggressively administering $500 fines but will consider suspensions for repeat offenders of the pace rules. Does Farrell think Ortiz placed a target on his back with his outburst?

“No, not at all,” Farrell said. “I think the one thing that David has done is he’s an All-Star player and he’s a guy that is about playing the game the right way. I don’t think he’s putting a target on his back. He spoke his mind and that’s where we don’t make this too much of an issue because I think it’ll end up being a subtlety inside of the game. But this is no different than when they had fines and potential suspensions for relievers coming out of the bullpen that took too long. We dealt with our guys that were a little bit slower than normal in a way that you have to remind them of some things as the game unfolds.”

Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, John Farrell
Ben Cherington on D&C: MLB pace of play changes will be ‘a process’ at 11:04 am ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington checked in with Dennis & Callahan live from Fort Myers, Florida on Thursday morning to talk all things Red Sox and also to discuss the recent MLB pace of play changes. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

A major topic of discussion in the early days of spring training has been the recent pace of play changes in an effort to speed up the game. Cherington feels it is going to be a process, as is almost anything when it comes to implementing changes.

“I think as with anything when there is change it’s a process — and we have spring training to work through that,” said Cherington. “There’s a lot of smart people who have looked at this issue and feel strongly that pace of play is a critical issue for the game, for the greater good of the game. We all have a stake in that. Now it’s a question of how to improve that, how to execute it on the new policy so that it actually works and everyone gets comfortable. That’s a process. We have to use spring training to communicate, to educate, to allow players to feel what it feels like and frankly, our staff has that built into spring training. Since we’re very early in spring training, some of that communication hasn’t happened yet.”

Part of the process is a pitch clock in minor league games. The general manager feels pitchers will end up liking it after adjusting to it, as it will help them establish a good pace.

“It’s a matter of practicing it — this is something we will do at minor league camp — you start throwing your bullpens with a clock so you can get used to it,” Cherington said. “Once you get used to doing that, they’ve left enough time to get the ball and deliver a pitch. It’s a matter of getting in the habit of doing it. I think a lot of pitchers will find that once they get into that habit they will actually like it because it keeps them on a good pace.”

Cherington made an interesting comparison when it comes to Cuban athletes (like Yoan Moncada, who he couldn’t comment directly on as the signing isn’t official) compared to American athletes — the best Cuban athletes are playing baseball, as where in America the best American athletes are playing football.

“I think the thing about the Cuban player market, which is different than just about any that we look at, is baseball in Cuba seems to be capturing a type of athlete that baseball is not capturing in any other place,” said Cherington. “You can say [Yasiel] Puig just looks different, that’s because he is different. If he was growing up in Louisiana he would probably be playing in the SEC. If you’re growing up in Cuba you’re playing baseball, you’re not getting funneled into football programs.

“Some of the players that are coming out, they look different because they are different and if they have been training that long and training their skills, it’s pretty exciting what they can do on the field. We think there are guys, Moncada included, not to speak officially on him, that are capable of doing a lot of different stuff on the field just because they are are different type of athlete.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2015 spring training, ben cherington, John Farrell, Shane Victorino
John Farrell would like to see pitchers work faster, too 02.25.15 at 2:07 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Hitters aren’t the only ones who can speed up the pace of play in baseball. Pitchers can do their part, too, according to Red Sox manager John Farrell.

Major League Baseball recently unveiled changes designed to speed up the pace of play, from batters keeping one foot in the box at virtually all times, to managers staying near their dugouts during challenges.

“I’€™ve always subscribed to the fact that if you ingrain (the idea) into a pitcher of working fast, changing speed and throwing strikes, that’€™s a recipe for success for a number of years,” Farrell said. “I think that will assure a steady flow of the game, but that’€™s not always the case and that’€™s why these changes are being implemented.”

One Red Sox pitcher who could stand to work a little faster is right-hander Clay Buchholz, who recently acknowledged that he wants to speed up his tempo this year.

“If any part of it is on the pitcher, you’ll have to step up your pace a little bit,” Buchholz said. “Actually, I’ve been trying to work on that anyway, getting the ball and getting back on the rubber and letting the hitter determine whenever I throw the ball, instead of me lagging.”

Farrell described the benefits for a quick worker.

“If you have a good tempo on the mound, the game should flow,” Farrell said. “We recognize the TV broadcast is going to drive a lot of this with the time in between innings, but that’€™s an area we can adhere to more strictly, is make sure we start on time coming out of an inning break.

“I think it needs to be given a chance to let it play out and see what happens. I’€™ve talked to a number of pitchers in the offseason when it was focused on the pitch clock. They thought, ‘Why is it always us being targeted?’ I think everybody is going to look upon themselves as ‘Why me?’ a little bit, but I think it’€™s important to let these changes take hold.”

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John Farrell on D&C: ‘I believe in and I like the talent that we have’ on pitching staff at 11:09 am ET
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Red Sox manager John Farrell checked in with Dennis & Callahan from spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., on Wednesday morning to talk about the outlook for the team this season. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The biggest question mark as spring training begins is the pitching staff, with the lack of a true No. 1 starter.

“We all know that there’s a label that certain pitchers have earned. But I tell you this: I feel very good about the five that are in the rotation,” Farrell said. “There’s talent. There’s some question with the bounce-back capability of Justin Masterson, with an injury late in 2013 that seemingly affected last year; Clay Buchholz‘s durability, consistency, comes to mind, but when he has been healthy he’s pitched equivalent to a No. 1; and, to me, Joe Kelly, who’s got the stuff to be that type of guy — we’ve got to extend his overall innings workload.”

Kelly’s name has been mentioned as perhaps the most likely candidate to be the team’s top starter.

“I think Joe Kelly’s got the ability to go I think a step up as he’s learning himself as a pitcher. He’s got the best stuff in our rotation,” Farrell said. “You’re looking at a guy who’s mid- to upper 90s with a very good breaking ball, a strong, competitive streak that we saw in the starts that he made for us last year. I’m going to talk optimistically, there’s no doubt about it, because I believe in and I like the talent that we have.”

ESPN analyst Curt Schilling appeared on D&C before Farrell and questioned Buchholz’s inner drive to succeed.

“I wouldn’t agree with that,” Farrell said. “Everyone certainly has the right to their own opinion. But having been with Clay for a number of years now, he loves to compete. He loves to be the best to his abilities. Now, there’s been some things that have held him back, and durability over the course of a career to date has come into play here a little bit. But I can tell you this: He’s driven and he’s got — as we all do — a lot of motivation coming off the year we just finished.”

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Read More: 2015 spring training, Clay Buchholz, Curt Schilling, Joe Kelly
John Farrell is pretty excited about Brock Holt and Daniel Nava on his bench 02.23.15 at 5:46 pm ET
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Brock Holt

Brock Holt

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Brock Holt and Daniel Nava are the ying and yang of the Red Sox bench. And manager John Farrell acknowledges how well the 2015 Red Sox come together could hinge, in part, on how these two super subs perform.

Daniel Nava hit .300 for the final four months of 2014 while Brock Holt was the only American Leaguer to start at seven different positions over the course of the 162-game season. Holt missed the final 21 games with a concussion but still managed to hit .281 with a .331 OBP and four home runs.

“We’re never restricted by late-inning moves because we’ve got the versatility with those two guys,” Farrell said Monday. “They’re talented players that you can build in some off-days for other guys and rotate them through and seemingly not skip a beat. It goes back to the depth of our roster and the talent that’s there.

“The key is with David being a full-time DH, Brock’s versatility really allows [for substitution options]. Where many teams might use the DH spot to rotate guys through and get them off their legs on a given day, Brock is that built-in player to do that with David in the DH spot. We didn’t know this going into last year but the fact he started games at seven different positions, he put himself in a unique category around the league.”

Holt became Boston’s most productive utility player — and baseball’s most versatile — as Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli, Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino all battled through injuries.

“He’s a good baseball player,” Farrell said. “He’s shown an improved arm strength as we put him over at shortstop the last couple of years, an above-average runner and clearly what we saw in the outfield were good reads and routes when playing all three positions.

“Maybe one of the better stories of the otherwise overall frustrating year was his versatility and how he improved as a player.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Brock Holt, daniel nava, John Farrell
John Farrell says he expects David Ortiz in camp Tuesday in time for Wednesday’s first full squad workout at 2:24 pm ET
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Rusney Castillo shares a laugh with David Ortiz before a game in 2014. (Getty Images)

Rusney Castillo shares a laugh with David Ortiz before a game in 2014. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The only unaccounted for player in Red Sox camp is expected to make his arrival Tuesday.

Manager John Farrell said Monday that he expects Red Sox slugger David Ortiz in camp on time to take his physical and report to camp in time for the first full squad workout on Wednesday.

But asked specifically if he’s heard from the 39-year-old slugger, Farrell said he had not had any formal contact as of Monday morning.

“I don’t have an exact arrival date yet, no,” the manager said.

In the last several years, Ortiz has arrived days in advance of the first full squad workout but he has not been sighted so far.

Read More: 2015 spring training, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, John Farrell
Ben Cherington wants John Farrell managing Red Sox ‘for a long time’ 02.21.15 at 2:12 pm ET
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His work done after a hectic offseason that saw the roster overhauled, Ben Cherington had but one wish entering spring training — get manager John Farrell signed to an extension.

“We almost made it,” Cherington said. “First day of camp.”

The Red Sox don’t mind the extra day after getting what they wanted on Saturday by announcing a contract extension with Farrell that will keep him in Boston beyond the 2015 season, the last one on his original three-year deal. Terms were not disclosed.

“There’s no question in our mind that John is the right man to manage this team,” Cherington said. “We want and expect him to be here for a long time. … This just gets the question out of the way going into the season and allows us to focus on baseball.”

With a World Series and last-place finish on his resume, Farrell’s future may have seemed up in the air, but within the walls of Yawkey Way, there was little doubt.

“I think you guys know there’s a lot that goes into a manager’s job in Boston,” Cherington said. “What happens between innings 1 and 9 is just a very small part of it. John has the ability and is one of the few guys that has the ability, we think, to thrive and excel in everything that comes along with being a manager in Boston. It’s just very clear to us that he’s the right guy. We want to be working together as a group and with him for a long time.”

Farrell was understandably thrilled.

“Well, first and foremost, I’m ecstatic to have the extension, to be able to work alongside Ben and Mike [Hazen] and many others in our front office,” Farrell said. “This is a very special place.”

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Red Sox extend John Farrell through 2017, with option for ’18 at 10:35 am ET
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John Farrell is ready for his third spring training as Red Sox manager. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

John Farrell is ready for his third spring training as Red Sox manager. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — John Farrell has job security with the Red Sox for the next three seasons.

The team and its manager finalized an agreement Saturday that will extend the 52-year-old manager through the 2017 season, with a club option for 2018. Farrell was in the final guaranteed year of his contract, which included an option for 2016.

General Manager Ben Cherington made the announcement through a club press release on Saturday morning as the team was conducting its first pitchers and catchers workout of spring training.

Over his first two seasons with Boston, Farrell has led the club to a combined 168-156 (.519) record and the 2013 World Series Championship. In 2013, he became just the sixth skipper to win a World Series with Boston, and only the fourth to do it in his first year at the helm. Farrell took over for Bobby Valentine in Oct. 2012 and was hired as the 46th manager in team history.

The last time a Red Sox manager was in this position was 2011, when Terry Francona entered the last year of his contract without an extension. His 2012 option was declined by the organization and he was fired after the team collapsed in September.

Farrell, Francona’s pitching coach from 2007-10, finished second in 2013 AL Manager of the Year voting and was named AL Manager of the Year by the Sporting News after guiding Boston to a 97-65 record, tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for the best mark in baseball. The Red Sox took first place in the AL East and went on to win 11 of 16 postseason games in securing the Fall Classic.

Last season, he saw 55 players and 19 rookies contribute to the Red Sox, both his most as a manager as the club finished fifth in the division at 71-91 (.438). He piloted the AL to a 5-3 win over the National League in the 2014 All-Star Game at Minnesota’€™s Target Field.

In four years as a major league manager for the Blue Jays (2011-12) and Red Sox (2013-14), Farrell has a career record of 322-326 (.497). Read the rest of this entry »

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John Farrell proclaims Shane Victorino ‘full-go’, will be Red Sox RF if ‘fully healthy’ 02.20.15 at 1:19 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — If Shane Victorino needed any pat on the back from his manager for his offseason work to rehab from back surgery, he got it and then some Friday.

“I think the most encouraging one is the way Vic has reported,” John Farrell declared Friday outside the JetBlue clubhouse. “He is full-go baseball activity. I think the way he is talking in the clubhouse indicates that he feels good about himself. We’ll find out as we go through camp here the durability from day-to-day and the volume that increase throughout camp.”

Farrell, unprompted, went even further when raving about the physical shape of his 34-year-old veteran outfielder.

“If Shane Victorino is fully capable and fully healthy, he’s our right fielder,” Farrell said. “That’s pretty simple. He was one of the best right fielders in the game two years ago. When you come back from injury, you shouldn’t have lost your job because of an injury. He’s rehabbed it successfully to date, and going forward, we just have to monitor the recovery rate. And we’ve got a full spring training to do that, and probably into the first part of the year.”

Victorino only played in 30 games in 2014, spending much of last season on the disabled list. He had season-ending back surgery on Aug. 5. In those 30 games, he batted exclusively right-handed. Farrell did not say Friday if he expects Victorino to return to switch-hitting, or when that might take place in camp.

Here are some other takeaways from Farrell Friday morning as the full compliment of pitchers and catchers invited to camp reported for physicals and 1-on-1 interviews.

On whether he or the organization is concerned about the physical condition and weight of Pablo Sandoval: “No, not concerned about his weight. There’s a number of people he’s working with here to make sure he’s on the field every day. And that would be the case throughout the course of the regular season. We were well aware of Pablo’s career, who he is as a person, long before he signed here. We’re looking forward to getting him on the field and acclimating him into this roster.

“You’ll get to know that Pablo has an infectious personality. He cares about his teammates and plays the game the right way. We’re extremely excited that he’s in our uniform. He’s going to be a productive player for us.”

On the main spot of competition on the pitching staff: “There’s probably an area in the bullpen that we’ve got some competition for, whether that’s one or two spots we have some guys competing for, that will work itself out during camp.”

On his rebuilt starting rotation: “I’m excited about the five guys in the rotation. I think this is a group that has established themselves at the big league level. There’s been All Star performance capability to that level and there’s been a lot of talk that we lack a true No. 1 guy. I like the fact that this is a deep and talented rotation and I’m confident in it.”

On his excitement on the eve of the first pitchers and catchers workout on Saturday: “Even as far back as a week ago, we had 40-plus players that had already reported to camp and I think it is an indication of the eagerness and the want in the attitude of the players to get spring training underway and put last year behind us even further and establish a tone in camp that will carry us through the start of the season.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, John Farrell, Shane Victorino,
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