Red Sox name Farrell pitching coach
Former Major Leaguer was in Indians front office since 2001
BOSTON -- Maybe one day, John Farrell will fully pursue the job many in baseball think he's fit for -- to be the general manager of a Major League club. But in officially being named pitching coach of the Red Sox on Monday, Farrell made it clear that he still embraces the challenges that come with wearing a uniform on a daily basis.
"I can tell you that a daily competitive fire exists within me, and I think the opportunity that's been presented to make decisions or in-game decisions that have the potential to affect the outcome on a daily basis is a tremendous opportunity," Farrell said. "Not only that, but to do this in Boston and in an on-field environment that might be the best presented in our industry is really what came to the forefront."
By choosing to come to Boston, Farrell left behind his post as director of player development for the Indians, a role he held since November 2001.
Without that invaluable experience, Farrell doesn't think he would have been pursued for this role by Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona.
"The newness to the position will be the in-game information and information given to Tito," Farrell said. "In terms of evaluation and giving recommendations to individual pitchers, in this [former] role, that has been done on a daily basis. Whether it's with a young guy in the system or a guy making the transition to the Major Leagues, those relationships and that communication has been ongoing for the last five years.
"I would say clearly that had I not performed this job over the last five years, it might not have put me in a position to take on the responsibilities that are outlined as pitching coach of the Boston Red Sox. I look at these last five years as developing me to be able to handle the responsibilities here."
Farrell, who pitched in the Major Leagues from 1987-90 and 1993-96, will take charge of a pitching staff that features some of the most promising young arms in baseball, but also veterans such as Curt Schilling and Tim Wakefield.
What he said he will try to do for all of his pitchers is to create a structure in which they can thrive.
"The way to communicate that is through a detailed or consistent framework that gives each pitcher a consistent starting point that's very routine-oriented and team-based so that their consistency and day-to-day approach will play out on the field," Farrell said.
Epstein and Francona announced the appointment of Farrell exactly two weeks after announcing that Dave Wallace, the club's pitching coach since June, 2003, would not be coming back.
In examining the available replacements, Francona and Epstein both saw Farrell as the perfect fit.
Francona and Farrell have a strong relationship that started in 1988 when they were teammates on the Indians.
"I think we were looking for characteristics and traits in a pitching coach that are consistent with how we feel about the game and feel about people," Francona said. "I wanted somebody desperately that I was comfortable with, that Theo would be comfortable with, that ownership would be comfortable with and that the players would be comfortable with. So this isn't something where you start rounding up friends and friendships. What I wanted to do was have somebody that I thought could be an outstanding pitching coach for the Boston Red Sox. That's why this ended up being an easy decision."
Epstein, who prides himself on having coaches who are heavy on preparation, agreed.
"I think we were looking for someone who would take a very broad view of the job and be able to make a real impact on our pitching," Epstein said. "This is about wins and losses. I think John has a really good feel for what makes pitchers succeed, from a mental standpoint as well as from a physical standpoint. He's faced a lot of those challenges himself, not only as a player but as a collegiate coach and as a farm director and is very well qualified to work with our pitchers on making the adjustments necessary to succeed on all those fronts.
"He has a track record in his career of getting things done, of getting things done the right way and having success, and that's what we're looking for with respect to our pitchers."
Al Nipper, who filled in last season as pitching coach when Wallace was out for health reasons, will remain in the organization, perhaps as the bullpen coach, which is the role he was hired in last winter.
"Well, John is going to be talking with Nip in the next couple of days just to talk to him about the bullpen coach's job and see if there's a fit there," Epstein said. "Nip knows that he's a valued member of the organization. We informed him yesterday that we would be naming John the pitching coach. Nip took the news very well and is excited about possibly having the opportunity to work with John and support him. Certainly, regardless of role, he's a very valued member of the organization and will be put in a position to make an impact going forward."
The Red Sox are still in the process of filling the hitting coach vacancy left by Ron Jackson's dismissal. Dave Magadan, Epstein confirmed, will start working for the Red Sox on Nov. 1, but he hasn't been assigned a role yet. Magadan, a former Major Leaguer, is a candidate to be the hitting coach.
"We're moving forward in the selection process for a hitting coach," Epstein said. "We're not ready to make any announcements."
But the pitching coach is set, and he's looking forward to starting his new job.
"I look forward to the challenge of building a relationship with individual pitchers and ultimately getting them to reach their fullest potential, which many have; obviously, their track record speaks for itself in many cases," Farrell said. "I think there's a core group of young arms that are in the transition stage and beginning to establish themselves at the big-league level."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.