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October 22, 2013

John Farrell


Q.  I did a story on you last year at the Winter Meetings and the premise of the piece was given all the moves the Blue Jays had made, you were leaving this great situation in Toronto and going to what the media was reported on as a possible bad situation in Boston, given that it was a last-place team.  The opposite obviously happened.  Did you see this coming?  Did this surprise you that it's been the opposite of this or did you think this was achievable from the get‑go?
JOHN FARRELL:   I can't speak of what took place in Toronto this past season.  I know that when Ben set out to execute his vision and his plan and the players that he was able to identify that matched that vision, and when we assembled in Spring Training and Ft. Myers, it was clear that this was a group of veteran guys that have come from winning environments, and we were getting a core group back that was healthy.  Guys that had won championships.  Guys that had been All‑Star caliber players.  And as the season unfolded, the tight‑knit group that we know of today started to experience some things, and answer some challenges that we felt like we had a good team.  And the close‑knit group has helped us overcome some of those challenges.

Q.  Tell me a little bit about your experiences from '07 and how they can translate now.  You manage every day, but the postseason is a different animal and this is a different animal entirely.  What did you pick up from Tito in '07 that can help you here and through the next week?
JOHN FARRELL:   I think one thing that stands out and having to live it now through the first two series, and there's probably a little more sense of urgency to the decisions you make, particularly with matchups on the mound.  And sometimes you kind of go a little bit more with your gut with the way guys are currently playing, as opposed to the approach you might take during the regular season, where in some ways it's a little more numbers based, and the way guys respond to the postseason environment.  That's one thing you're getting a read of with the given guys.  And that might be where some of that gut feel comes into play with some of the lineups we've used, particularly with our leftfield situation, making a change with Xander at third base.  Those are two examples that go along there.

Q.  How did you know that Juan Nieves was the right man to be your pitching coach?
JOHN FARRELL:   Having been a teammate of his and then kept in touch with him over the years, one, he's an intelligent guy, but more importantly his genuineness as a person to me was the one thing that would allow him to connect with players.  And that has proven to be the case.  He's a very good pitching coach.  And I think the sincerity in which he comes to work with every day, guys feel that.  And they trust in his message.
In addition to all the other things I mentioned about him the person.  And that is the intelligence he has, he can draw on his own experiences, and was a top‑flight young pitcher himself and unfortunately injury took that away.  So he can have some compassion toward those going through a similar situation.

Q.  You said today at this time you might have the rest of the rotation, and some thoughts on what direction you might go in with the roster.  I wonder if you do?
JOHN FARRELL:   No roster changes as of today.  We're going to do with the same 25 we finished the last series with, so that hasn't been adjusted.  John Lackey will pitch Game 2.  And yet on the weekend we'll have that a little more clear as that gets closer.

Q.  Wondering since you coached the Blue Jays for two years, wondering if any of the relationships that you had there, if anybody called or messaged you to offer congratulations and wish good luck in the World Series?
JOHN FARRELL:   Yeah, there have been a couple.  Not only some people in the front office, but a couple of players, as well.  Hopefully through all the change some of those personal relationships that you do forge, don't go by the wayside, despite what might have come out of last year, and appreciate the reaching out.

Q.  I wanted to ask you about the tragedy the city went through in April and how that has impacted you as a person, this team, in New York in 2001 the Yankees went through something similar.  Obviously the tragedy was much more enormous and happened late in the season.  How has this impacted what the team has tried to do?  Has it helped the team come together having a cause in a sense?
JOHN FARRELL:   It has.  We spoke a number of times about that event being somewhat of a galvanizing force for this group.  What's been most impressive is some of the individual outreach by our players, without any public acknowledgment, without any ‑‑ the genuineness in which the players have done that, whether it's hospital visits, whether it's leaving tickets for individual families or first responders.  And I think all we tried to do was pitch in to the rest of the city to help those affected, and to more than anything not let that day go forgotten.  And I think our organization throughout the course of this year has done a great job of acknowledging those who have responded and those who have suffered.
And I think more than anything, just we've become a little bit of a vehicle to keep that in the forefront of a lot of people's minds.

Q.  As somebody with a player development background, how much do you like the idea the World Series has two teams that have a lot of home‑grown players.  The Cardinals a few more than you guys, but both organizations have tried to incorporate young guys into their mix this year?
JOHN FARRELL:   I think it's a great example of a lot of work by people that might not gain a lot of the notoriety or acknowledgment.  The scout who's out in the northwest finding a young guy from that territory, or a coach at the entry level in rookie ball.  Their imprint is on the players that have started their career in that original organization.
And I firmly believe that the players that come through that path, they have maybe a greater sense of ownership because it is their original organization, and that might translate into a difference on the field, with the way they compete, the way they go about it, knowing that they're playing for what they know as their home in pro baseball.  And no one does it as well as the Cardinals, given the number of guys that are on their roster right now.

Q.  Having been the pitching coach here, can you reflect on what journey was for Jon Lester from recovering cancer patient in '07 to where he is now as the No. 1 starter on your staff.  And how much of what he went through personally do you think made him a stronger person to be that No. 1 pitcher?
JOHN FARRELL:   Well, there's no doubt that his personal story is a major contributor to who he is today.  Thinking back to '07, when we sent him out of Spring Training in '07 to start back in Greenville, in the South Atlantic League, and work his way back up to build stamina and some endurance.  He came to us and was sent back down to Portland late in that season.  And to see his progression, to regain the physical stamina and strength, but ultimately culminating in that Game4 start that he had, for so many of us it was a great experience to win the World Series.  But for Jon's case, to be on the mound in the clinching game in a World Series environment, that's stuff that stories and movies are made of.
And to see where he's come today, there's no question he hasn't forgotten the journey he's traveled.  I think he serves as a living example to many that don't take the field, but share in a similar journey has he has.

Q.  How does Molina's presence affect choices you're going to make?
JOHN FARRELL:   Well, he's a shut‑down thrower behind the plate, evident by the number of attempts against them this year, but in addition to his ability to throw the baseball, their pitchers do a very good job with their unloading times, as well.
We're still trying to get our arms around it, trying to maybe be opportunistic in certain situations.  We don't know when they're going to be yet.  But he's certainly a force to be reckoned with back there.  And you don't want to take chances particularly as well‑pitched games as it projects to be with these two staffs.  You think it might be a low‑run game and outs are a premium.

Q.  As I recall, that Game4 start kind of came out of nowhere.  What do you remember about you and Tito deciding to give him the ball there?  Aside from whatever emotion was involved for a cancer survivor to be closing out a series, what did you see from him on the mound that made you think that this guy has the ability to be a top‑of‑the‑rotation guy going forward?
JOHN FARRELL:   Without recalling every factor that went into or every contributing factor that went into the decision, the two appearances he made in the ALCS, one wasn't real good here in Fenway, and another was 2 1/3 innings in Cleveland where he was powerful and dominant.  And coming out of the ALCS, I am trying to remember who the starter was we bypassed in that situation‑‑ it was Wake, right.  And we felt like in the altitude, the knuckleball might be a little more of an issue there.  And we all felt that stuff, power stuff, the ability to get hitters out within the strike zone was key.  Coming off that second appearance against Cleveland, Jon Lester was the clear choice.

Q.  Mike Matheny was asked about the Cardinal's way.  How would you define the Red Sox way?
JOHN FARRELL:   That there's a relentless approach to play a complete game every night.  And I know that can be selling a broad brush, but we look to be relentless in every aspect of the game.  And that's a mindset, an attitude that we've worked hard at creating.  And I think that attitude is what has allowed us to come back from so many deficits this year and never give an at‑bat away, and certainly play to the 27th out every night.

Q.  Can you talk about Wainwright and what kind of problems might he present Wednesday?
JOHN FARRELL:   A very good pitcher.  A lot of strikes, particularly around the count.  We know we're getting a three‑pitch mix thrown against us.  When you walk 35 guys in 240 innings, you know you're going to get a lot of pitches across home plate, and not just in the strike zone somewhere.  He's got very good command.  As we've talked about with guys on the Detroit staff, it's power stuff.  He has the ability to be unpredictable.  He does a very good job of controlling the running game, in combination with the Yadier.  The key for us is if we get pitches on the plate, in the middle of the plate somewhere, is not to miss them.

Q.  One of the biggest differences this year, your team ERA is a full run better.  Two of the guys, Buchholz and Lester, you coached when you were a pitching coach here.  Two of their worst seasons for them individually last year.  What do you attribute and how much input did you have in their bounceback seasons this season?
JOHN FARRELL:   Well, they got back to their more consistent form.  Coming into the start of the season Jon Lester was still going through some adjustments to his delivery that he ironed out in Spring Training, and gained that consistency to perform as he has, which is back to the '08 to 2010 form that he showed before.  And Clay Buchholz was coming into Spring Training not restricted physically.  He'd come off a situation where his low back had prevented him from being as effective as he was.  Unfortunately the season was interrupted because of a shoulder injury.  But those two guys, more than anything was getting back to their original form.  And when they were able to get off to a good start, their confidence grew.  And I think the rest of our rotation was able to feed off their leading by example.  But just getting them back to their original form.

Q.  How much trust do you put in your coaching staff?  Being a coach turned manager, do you see any characteristics in any of them where you see them as possible, potential managers in the future?
JOHN FARRELL:   There's implicit trust.  They're going to be more hands‑on with players than I am, in their work sessions.  Their relationships are going to be different than mine is with guys on our team.  And that's just by virtue of the position that they hold.  And certainly the hands‑on work that they do with them, either early work or in‑game recommendations.  So that's why our interview process in constructing a staff was exhaustive.  To get the right guys and then give them the freedom to do their job.  We all share an expectation of what we want to get across to our players.  And but then to step back and let them go do their work to me is the only way to go about it.
And as far as potential in our staff, you're already reading Torey's name.  He's already interviewed not only here in Boston but LA in the past.  I think he's a manager in waiting.  It's a matter of time for him.  Brian Butterfield has interviewed in the past, as well.  We've got multiple candidates, I think, current and future, that can realize their professional goal, being a manager as well.

Q.  Can you just expand a little bit on the decision to go back to Lackey for Game 2 in this round?  And also waiting to line up your rotation for the weekend, is everything okay with Clay physically?
JOHN FARRELL:   Yeah, everything is okay, we fully expect he and Jake to be pitching on the weekend in St. Louis.  The way John came out of his game over in Detroit, and not allowing too many days of rest to get away from that previous start of his.  So those are the primary ‑‑ that's the primary reason to get John back in there in Game 2.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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