|Red Sox notebook: John Farrell talks David Price’s elbow, Tyler Thornburg’s mystifying struggles, and what he’d change about spring training||03.05.17 at 1:10 pm ET|
FORT MYERS — With the Red Sox set to square off against the Braves on Sunday, here are some notes from John Farrell’s lengthy pregame session with reporters.
— Farrell said left-hander David Price will continue to work on conditioning and range of motion, with light strengthening, while he recovers from an elbow strain. He’ll remain shut down for another week or so.
“I know David is probably feeling better today than he has yesterday and all those are encouraging signs, but there’s going to be range of motion, light strengthening, the cardio and conditioning from a general standpoint continues until we put a ball back in his hand,” Farrell said.
Price will not throw until he’s symptom-free.
— Reliever Tyler Thornburg is off to a woeful start, and will throw on flat ground Sunday and work in the bullpen on Tuesday before returning to game action later this week in an attempt to fix his mechanics. Thornburg has allowed seven hits and nine runs in just 1.1 innings, good for a staff-worst 47.25 ERA.
“It’s been more timing in his delivery,” Farrell said. “He’s out of sync right now. His body is drifting to the plate too quick, you see a number of pitches left up of the strike zone up to his arm-side. To see him hit a guy the other day with a changeup, that just says his timing right now needs a lot of work.”
— What does Farrell dislike about spring training? “We don’t have all day, do we?” Farrell joked.
His basic issue is with the push and pull of preparing his team vs. entertaining the fans who pack JetBlue Park on a daily basis.
“We still see it as this is our vehicle to get players ready physically,” Farrell said. “And yet you walk in and there are 11,000 people, so there’s this conflict of big business and getting players ready. Not that you lose sight of that and you’re playing players all the time, but when you start getting pushback because four or five big-leaguers haven’t traveled across the [state]. There’s a lot more to balance now.”
— Farrell saluted the job first base coach Ruben Amaro has done as a third base coach in camp, but reiterated that Brian Butterfield will return to that spot in time for the start of the season. Butterfield has been slowed by a knee replacement.
“If Butter can get out there with a crutch, he’ll be out there,” Farrell said. “He’s our third base coach.”
|Dave Dombrowski on Kirk & Callahan: John Farrell’s job was never in jeopardy last season||02.23.17 at 9:38 am ET|
Dave Dombrowski joins us now live from JetBlue Park! pic.twitter.com/a3SM6vtjDd
— Kirk and Callahan (@KirkAndCallahan) February 23, 2017
At various points last season, there were questions about whether Red Sox manager John Farrell was on the brink of losing his job. But president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said on Kirk & Callahan Thursday the thought didn’t cross his mind.
“I don’t think we were ever in that spot. We had a good consistent season,” he said from JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Fla. “I don’t think we lost more than three games in a row at any point last year. I think last year our club played well, we played solidly, we won 93 games. So no, not at all.”
When Dombrowski announced last October Farrell would return to the club in 2017, he said in-game strategy isn’t the most important job for a manager. He reiterated that claim in his conversation with K&C.
“I think an example of the most important part is your ability –– and I always tell mangers this, I’ve talked to Leyland, La Russa –– [your] ability to get your players to play up to their capabilities on a consistent basis is the most important part for a manager,” Dombrowski said. “Now, you just can’t be motivational also. You have to be a lot of other things, but your players coming in and playing hard on a consistent basis, having the respect of the players is extremely important for a manager. Having control of the clubhouse, communication skills. There’s just so many things that make up a good manager to me in today’s world.”
Even though Dombrowski doesn’t put in-game managing at the top of his list, it doesn’t mean he thinks Farrell is incapable of making sound strategic decisions. He says he has full confidence in Farrell’s abilities.
“I think he is a good in-game manager,” Dombrowski said. “It’s interesting people talk about that. I always say, point to examples. But the realty is, you start with the pitching staff. He handles the pitching staff very well. He’s, I think, very well-regarded in the industry at handling the pitchers. He’s got a good pulse of his bullpen, how guys should be used, when they should not be used. From an offensive perspective, I think in our league, the reality is that you don’t do a lot of maneuvering during games very often. You’re really in a spot with the DH where you keep your guys out there most of the time. It’s really a determination most of the time when somebody needs rest or somebody needs a day off. And then if you point to, well, somebody –– I hear often, well, somebody is a good in-game manager from an offensive perspective. We led the league in runs scored by 101 last year. I’m not saying he’s the reason behind that, because the hitters are very involved and the main reason. But I think the reality is, he does a fine job.”
|Minus David Ortiz, Red Sox plan new approach to beating shift — more bunting||02.15.17 at 2:04 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — With defensive shifts becoming so common they’re even used against pull-happy No. 9 hitters, the Red Sox plan to alter their offensive approach to beat them by going old-school and bunting.
Per Baseball Info Solutions, the Red Sox faced over 1,300 defensive shifts last year, seventh most in baseball. Almost a quarter of them (408) came against retired slugger David Ortiz, but he wasn’t alone. Jackie Bradley (224) was also shifted frequently, for instance, and manager John Farrell would like to see the team’s approach to such situations evolve.
“One of the things that we’ve really seen is that even with guys coming in the first part of their career, guys are really starting to get shifted against when we’re on offense,” Farrell said. “We’ve got some things that we’ll look to do to hopefully take back some of those lanes that are otherwise shifted away from. That’s just becoming more prevalent around the game. The bat-handlers that can work the ball the other way, or who are the guys that can more readily drop a bunt down to take advantage of that shift, that’s one thing that we’ll look to do more of.”
Before the stats-minded start howling reflexively about the evils of bunting, let’s make one thing clear — Farrell is talking about bunting for hits, not outs. The Red Sox recorded only eight sacrifices last year, and that approach is unlikely to change.
But it only makes sense that if the defense gives a hitter like Bradley the entire left side of the infield, a bunt in the vicinity of third base could equal a baserunner. That’s a shift in philosophy from Ortiz, who generally chose to swing away into the teeth of the shift for fear of costing himself and the team an extra-base possibility.
“The opposition may say, ‘Well, we’re fortunate we got a bunt so it’s working and we’re taking him out of his power swing,'” Farrell said. “But we’re seeing teams shift on guys that aren’t your prototypical power hitters. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit 25 [homers], but that’s kind of a breakthrough year for him. He’s a guy that, to me, we can look to take advantage of and work against the shift to hopefully open things back up for him.
“You’re seeing the shift on the bottom third of the order type hitters as well. So when it makes most sense, leading off an inning, late in a game when we’ve got to get something started, that’s the opportune time.”
|Red Sox manager John Farrell on Hot Stove Show: No timetable on Eduardo Rodriguez||01.11.17 at 8:31 pm ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell joined the Hot Stove Show on Wednesday night and provided a number of Red Sox updates, including who might play in the World Baseball Classic, the physical status of Eduardo Rodriguez and Steven Wright, and his thoughts on who might start on Opening Day.
Here are some highlights.
— Red Sox starters Chris Sale and David Price have already said they won’t be pitching in the WBC. The Red Sox are allowed to keep Rodriguez out of the tournament following the minor knee injury he suffered in winter ball in his native Venezuela.
— Speaking of Rodriguez, he’s getting his visa sorted out and will be in Boston shortly to have a followup exam on his knee. An MRI in Venezuela was negative. Farrell didn’t want to put a timetable on his possible return. “He’s been able to do some light exercise,” Farrell said. “There’s no reason to think spring training is going to be delayed.” That said, Farrell acknowledged that Rodriguez’s history means the team will proceed cautiously with him.
— Wright, the knuckleballer, is throwing from 90 feet as he continues his return from a shoulder injury.
— Carson Smith has started a throwing program. He’ll be in Fort Myers on Feb. 1 to continue his program. He won’t be ready for the start of the season.
— President Dave Dombrowski recently told Buster Olney that Drew Pomeranz and Wright are penciled in to the last two spots in the rotation. That doesn’t mean there won’t be competition, however, because Farrell wants that culture to continue. E-Rod remains in the mix.
— Farrell is impressed with how the trimmer Sandoval has looked this winter, but he also knows that it will be about how he looks in spring training. He’s not ready to say there will be a platoon at third base, noting that Sandoval looked better hitting right-handed last year before his injury. “He’d be the first to admit he’s got a lot of ground to make up,” Farrell said of Sandoval’s overall outlook.
— Could Andrew Benintendi bat second? “It’s a possibility, no doubt,” Farrell said. Farrell likes the idea of breaking up four righties atop the order, and acknowledged that Benintendi could be a candidate for that spot, though nothing has been decided.
— Asked if Xander Bogaerts could hit down in the order, as he did in the playoffs last year, Farrell offered a reminder that Bogaerts was a tremendous hitter for much of last season. “In the first half of the season you wanted Bogey to the plate as many times as we could,” Farrell said. Farrell added that he wouldn’t commit to any lineup positions until talking to the players involved.
— With the potential of four left-handers in the rotation, Farrell was asked about Rick Porcello starting on Opening Day. He’s not ready to make that decision, though he did praise Porcello for all he accomplished last year.
TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW, CLICK HERE
|John Farrell on Pablo Sandoval: ‘It feels like he’s got to make it up to his teammates and the fans of Boston’||12.11.16 at 4:38 pm ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell joined the Trenni and Tomase Show over the weekend and discussed a number of topics — including the comeback attempt of third baseman Pablo Sandoval.
With Travis Shaw traded to Milwaukee and third-base depth otherwise thin, barring a trade, Sandoval will enter spring training as the clear starter at the position. Photos from Fort Myers show him working hard to lose weight. Farrell did not mince words about the challenge ahead.
“No one’s going to say the first two years of Pablo’s tenure in Boston have gone well,” Farrell said. “That’s obvious. . . . Pablo’s mindset is almost a redemption approach. It feels like he’s got to make it up to his teammates and the fans of Boston here.”
Sandoval missed almost all of last season because of shoulder surgery, which came on the heels of a disastrous 2015 that saw him post some of the worst numbers in baseball after signing a five-year, $95 million deal in free agency.
With David Ortiz gone, the Red Sox will be looking to improve on last year’s woeful third base production, and they hope Sandoval can be a big part of it.
“We’re not asking him to go out and be something he wasn’t prior to the signing of that contract,” Farrell said. “If he gets back to that level — and let’s face it, he’s going to have to go out and earn the job back, because Brock Holt is here, we did go out and pick up Josh Rutledge, who was a quality utility bat prior to the injury last year. We’ll see what transpires the rest of the offseason.”
Farrell noted that prior disappointments had turned their Red Sox careers around.
“There’s been a realizing that the approach he had gone through the first two years here was not the right one for him, and to his credit, he’s made an adjustment,” Farrell said. “He’s got a lot to earn back and particularly to our fans, but we’ve seen it happen before. The resurrection John Lackey went through [in 2013], it can happen. Hanley [Ramirez] bounces back with a big year this year. So I think as he sees other players around him that have done this, I would think it gives him confidence to be able to do it himself.”
Farrell reiterated that playing time will be based on performance, not pay. It’s up to Sandoval to earn it.
“When someone’s taking your job, you’ve got one of two ways to respond,” Farrell said. “You put your tail between your legs and walk out, or you find a way to earn it and fight back. He’s doing the latter right now.”
|Mookie Betts (MVP), Rick Porcello (Cy Young) named AL awards finalists; David Ortiz, John Farrell are not||11.07.16 at 7:27 pm ET|
Mookie Betts could win his first MVP award in just his second full season. David Ortiz now knows he will never take home that hardware.
Major League Baseball announced its award finalists on Monday night, and a pair of Red Sox were represented.
Betts was named a finalist for MVP, while right-hander Rick Porcello is in the running for the Cy Young Award.
Betts, 24, will be joined by former winner Mike Trout, who has finished no worse than second in four previous seasons, as well as Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who won the batting title.
Those three squeezed out Ortiz, who finished his career with the greatest offensive walk-off season in history. Ortiz mashed 38 homers and drove in a league-leading 127 runs to claim the Hank Aaron Award, given to the best hitter in each league.
On the pitching side, Porcello is a finalist for the first time. He’ll be matched up with a pair of former winners — Cleveland’s Corey Kluber and Detroit’s Justin Verlander. Porcello led the league with 22 wins and a 5.91 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
On the manager side, Red Sox skipper John Farrell was not a finalist, beaten out by Cleveland’s Terry Francona, Baltimore’s Buck Showalter, and Texas’s Jeff Banister.
The Arizona Diamondbacks introduced Torey Lovullo as their new manager on Monday, and Lovullo took the opportunity to thank the man who made much of it possible.
Red Sox manager John Farrell, whom Lovullo served under for the last three years (with a stint as interim skipper while Farrell underwent chemotherapy treatments in 2015), was singled out for his influence on his career.
“I also want to say a quick thank you to John Farrell, who’s a friend and mentor to me,” Lovullo told reporters, including Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. “Along the way, we walked through some very difficult times. He was the guy who took a chance on me and gave me my very first opportunity and helped me sit in this seat today.”
Lovullo, 51, won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2013. He has extensive experience as a minor-league manager and big-league bench coach, and was brought to Arizona by former Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen.
“I want to aim as high as possible,” Lovullo told reporters. “I am very optimistic that we have the capabilities of doing something special . . . We want to bring a system of communication. We want to take what we learned [in Boston] and perfect it here.”
|Red Sox president Sam Kennedy on OM&F: John Farrell ‘the right guy to continue to lead this franchise’||10.12.16 at 11:55 am ET|
Red Sox president Sam Kennedy checked in with Ordway, Merloni & Fauria on Wednesday morning, following Tuesday’s press conference in which the team announced John Farrell will return as manager. To hear the interview, go to the OM&F audio on demand page.
Kennedy supported Tuesday’s decision on Farrell, saying, “I think he’s the right guy to continue to lead this franchise.”
However, Kennedy was unclear where the team stands on Farrell’s 2018 option. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Tuesday that it would be ownership’s call.
“Dave will make a recommendation to ownership, and I have a seat at that table. We’ll talk about that in the coming days, to be sure,” Kennedy explained. “He knew he was going to get that question [about Farrell’s future] yesterday, again, right after a tough loss, and just wanted to address what we all knew, which was John will be back next year. [Dombrowski] will sit down and talk with us, specifically John Henry and Tom Werner, about a lot of these operations issues that we’re facing now in the immediate aftermath of going out in the postseason, including John Farrell’s option. So that will be discussed. But there’s a lot of other decisions that have to be made as well. Some will be recommendations from Dave, and some will just be firm decisions that he’s empowered to make on his own.”
Looking at the team’s disappointing performance in the ALDS, Kennedy said he can’t pinpoint a clear reason for the sweep at the hands of the Indians.
“What makes this the best baseball market on the planet is that we’d all love to try and point to one or two specific things,” Kennedy said. “I know my dad, for example, has his theories. He didn’t like the night in New York, after clinching the division and losing that awful game against the Yankees. Others may be quick to point to celebrations for David Ortiz.
“Look, if I knew what caused such a struggle with the bat in the postseason and not pitch our best, I’d probably be doing something else for a living, because I can’t point to a specific incident other than we just fell short of expectations. It was incredibly frustrating to watch those three games, because we felt we were positioned for a deep postseason run. At the end of the day, we didn’t get it done. I tip my cap to Terry Francona and [team president] Chris Antonetti and everyone at the Cleveland Indians. They beat us, and we have to tip our cap to them, as painful as it is to do that.”
|Curt Schilling on K&C: Most MLB GMs agree that ‘in-game managing is not the priority’||at 10:09 am ET|
Baseball analyst Curt Schilling, making his weekly appearance with Kirk & Callahan on Wednesday, expressed some surprise that the Red Sox are allowing John Farrell to return as manager. To hear the interview, go to the Kirk & Callahan audio on demand page.
Schilling indicated that he did not believe Farrell deserved to be fired, but with Tuesday’s press conference coming on the heels of a sweep by the Indians in the ALDS, the opening was there to make a change.
“If Dave had been looking for an out, he had it. He didn’t take it,” Schilling said. “I’m glad, obviously, because John is a dear friend. I guess I’m surprised in the sense I don’t really know Dave Dombrowski that well and I was expecting something, if it was going to happen, to happen.”
Farrell has taken some heat for his strategic moves, but Schilling agreed with Dombrowski that there is much more to being a good manager than making all the right decisions during games.
“He made it very clear yesterday, which I think is a lot of the things that most general managers believe now, which is in-game managing is not the priority,” Schilling said. “It’s about — given the money and given the state of the game — it’s about managing your players, about getting them to play up their capabilities. They clearly didn’t do that this series, but I blame Cleveland for that at some point.
“But I think managers have a lot more input and say lineup-wise, roster-composition-wise. So they don’t need the Tony La Russa, who he thinks he’s very much the smartest guy, that he invented the game. They need the guy that can get Manny Ramirez out there 145 days a year.”
|Dave Dombrowski doesn’t care that you hate John Farrell’s in-game managing, because he considers other skills more important||10.11.16 at 4:17 pm ET|
John Farrell’s most vocal critics inevitably cite his perceived deficiencies as an in-game manager when pushing for his dismissal.
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has a response for those people: it’s nowhere near the most important part of the job.
“I do not feel in-game strategy is the biggest thing as a manager,” Dombrowski said on Tuesday, hours after the Red Sox were swept from the American League Division Series by the Indians. “I think it’s important, but there are other things that are probably more important.
“To me, the most important thing for a manager is that their club plays up to their capabilities day-in, day-out, which means they’re communicating with their players and getting everything they can. That means their club is playing hard. In-game strategy, of course, is very important. But having been through this so much, and I’ve answered the question in the past here and I hope I’m not being too redundant, I think that’s what makes our game so interesting. A lot of people think they know more than the manager when it comes to strategy.”
Dombrowski noted that he has extensively talked strategy with Tony LaRussa, Jim Leyland, Joe Torre, and Bobby Cox, four Hall of Fame-caliber skippers.
“There’s a man on first base in a 2-2 game in the eighth inning and this is how it shapes up,” Dombrowski said. “One of them bunts, one hits-and-run, one steals and one does nothing. They all have their reasons in doing it. I think it’s most important that they are able to have a reason why they’re doing it, and so for me it’s a situation where there’s a lot of different ways to go about that. I think it’s having a pulse of your personnel and what works for you.
“John Farrell, you’re going to sit up there and you are not going to agree with the strategy all the time of anyone that is your manager. I learned that having Jim Leyland and Tony LaRussa. Tony’s already in the Hall of Fame and Jim should be. It’s just one of those things that comes with the territory.”
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