Farrell discusses an awkward topic
Funny how timing can be. With the rampant speculation about Bobby Valentine’s future with the Red Sox, what better time for John Farrell and the Blue Jays to come to town?
It is a poorly-kept secret that Farrell was likely the top choice to succeed Terry Francona as Boston’s manager following last season, but the Blue Jays had no interest in freeing him from his contract.
Maybe things have changed a little a year later. The Blue Jays, much like the Red Sox, are having an unsuccessful season in which they’ve been ravaged by injuries. Now, Farrell has just one season left on his contract.
If the Red Sox decide that Valentine — who also has one year left on his contract — isn’t their manager beyond this season, you’d like to think a deal could be worked out with Toronto for Farrell.
Anyway, with limbo being the obvious way to describe the current situation, here are some thoughts from Farrell:
“There’s a lot of speculation, obviously, but as I said last week in Toronto. I’m the manager of the Blue Jays. This is where my focus and commitment is. I’m under contract. That’s obvious,” Farrell said. “If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be sitting here today. At the same time, we’ve dealt with a lot of challenges ourselves. 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 look at other situations, because my focus is here. We’ve got a lot of challenges ourselves with getting guys back on the field. I’ll say this – knowing what the Red Sox have gone through, with the amount of players they’ve lost to injury, I can empathize with Bobby and having to deal with a lot of changes to the roster. And because of that change, you’re always trying to filter in new guys and get an understanding of what their capabilities are and how you can best utilize them to win a ballgame.
Did Farrell expect there to be such a buzz surrounding his latest return to Boston? “I don’t know that you can fully anticipate anything. You understand there are articles written, there’s things that are out there. With respect to everyone involved, my focus is right here in this dugout in this uniform.
If Farrell stayed in Toronto, would he want assurances beyond next season, asked Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston?
“Gordon, you’re putting the cart way before the horse with that. My contract is through 2013. My approach day in and day out doesn’t hinge upon my status. My focus and attention is today, right here. ”
Boston vs. Toronto? “Any place is going to have its own uniqueness to it. Managing is an honor. It’s a challenge at the same time. Different positions have different sets of challenges that are connected to them. Regardless of where you are, the focus remains on your task and duties at hand and doing the best job that you’re capable of at the time and that’s my focus right now, the challenge the Blue Jays have to face.
On what Terry Francona accomplished. “Having been in that dugout for four years, you do get the opportunity and the privilege to see it firsthand. He was a very successful manager, balanced a lot of different things both inside and out, he did a very good job. The history and the record speaks to that.”
“Through it all, through the ups and downs along the way, the one thing Tito always talked about was be true to yourself. As long as you can look yourself in the mirror and know that you did what you felt was the right thing to do, and that being the players come first, as long as you keep the players first in your decision-making and your thoughts toward them individually, you’re probably guided in the right direction to the right thing.”
Obviously, managers in Boston are under tremendous scrutiny. “I’ve never managed in Boston. I’ve only managed in one place, and that’s right here in Toronto. Having worked in Boston, sure, there’s a tremendous fan base that’s very passionate, the expectations are very high, but as a competitor, that’s what you aspire to do and be involved in.”
More on empathizing with Bobby V.
“As a manager, yes. We’ve had a lot of the same situations unfold, and it’s not easy. Its definitely not easy. We come in here today with a rotation that’s mapped out, and yet you come into the ballpark, you’re waiting for the next phone call, and in this case it’s J.A. Happ is out for the year. Not are you on Plan A or B; right now both teams are on Plan T or U. That’s where we’re at.”
How much does Farrell enjoy managing? “I love it. It’s an honor to be in the position entrusted with the team, to run a team at field level, and that’s never taken lightly. I can’t wait to get to the ballpark every day.”
Obviously, Farrell still has ties in the Red Sox organization.
“I had the fortunate ability to work closely with guys that I respect and guys that we have history even prior to working here in Boston, whether it was Mike Hazen and I running the farm system in Cleveland. Not only are they professional colleagues, on some level they became personal friends. We had success, we shared a lot of challenges along the way. That’s what you would hope would take place having worked for a number of years in one place or another.”