John Farrell is back with the Boston Red Sox. This time, the former BoSox pitching coach is running everything in the dugout as the new manager, after being traded from the Toronto Blue Jays earlier in the offseason to replace Bobby Valentine. But with Farrell on board, the Sox have started free agency slowly and are still putting together their coaching staff for next season.
John Farrell joined Rob Bradford, Kirk Minihane and Alex Speier on WEEI in Boston to discuss the open hitting coach job, the expectations for embattled reliever Alfredo Aceves, the signing of David Ross and the statuses of John Lackey and Junichi Tazawa.
On the process of putting together the coaching staff for 2013:
“We still have a couple of more interviews for the hitting coach position, but when you think about constructing a new staff and the amount of calls that go into background checks and recommendations on the number of candidates we’ve had for each of the positions we’ve interviewed for, it’s dominated quite a bit of the time. … That’s starting to take shape and coming to life.”
On if they’ll look to hire two hitting instructors:
“The work responsibility for that hitting instructor can be overwhelming at times. And when you consider the amount of video work that’s done in preparation for a given starter on a night, I really feel like a necessity exists and we’re likely to go with that concept.”
On Alfredo Aceves:
“We’ve had some initial conversations. They’ve been brief. He’s in Mexico. There have been messages left either way, on both sides. So to sit down and outline expectations here, I know that that’s been done in the past and I know that will continue to be done going forward. But this is also an extremely talented pitcher that can do some very unique things from a physical standpoint. I think the one thing that we’re going to hold ourselves accountable to is the way we play the game, the way we respect one another in our uniform and that we work each night as a unit. To tear anything apart or to work against that, I can tell you, goes against all that we’re trying to put together here, not only talented players but guys who are trying to play the game the right way.”
On if he feels Aceves can do that:
“Not knowing it firsthand, but seeing it and talking to others of what’s taken place, I think that the most important thing is that expectations are outlined with him. And I, for one, [need to] be very consistent with him. There are going to be some things that are non-negotiable. If certain situations arise, consequences may exist. Coming in with fresh eyes on him, being in the same uniform, I certainly want to give the benefit of the doubt to the situation, knowing that there’s some history here, but I think it’s important to be very candid and upfront here.”
On the David Ross signing:
“We brought David in to improve our team. Has he had a track record of being able to throw runners out? Yes he has. But he also brings a number of things that we’re looking for. He’s got leadership capabilities and qualities that fit well behind the plate in that position. He’s shown over the course of an entire career to be a very good game-caller and to get the most out of pitchers on a given night. But on the bigger picture, in the bigger topic that you raise here, going back the last couple of years here [including with] myself as a pitching coach, we were not very good at controlling the running game. We have to become better at that. That will be a main point of emphasis in spring training, and looking back over the last couple of years, finding ways to do just that. It will be, I’m not going to say a hot spot, but a point of emphasis in spring training. The running game has come back to being employed, not just in the AL East but across baseball. As home run totals have dropped, the running game has become much more a part of it, and controlling it falls much more on the pitchers and catchers to control it and do the best job capable.”
On John Lackey, who’s been a disappointment and is coming off Tommy John surgery:
“We’ve had multiple conversations. He’s in Dallas, working out at that API facility where a number of players work out. Will Middlebrooks is there as well. Coming out of live games pitched in instructional league, he goes through what would be a normal offseason program for any pitcher. We’ll initiate a throwing program for the 15th of December and he’ll work, as all other pitchers, with no restrictions, so to speak, as we start to ramp up not only from bullpens to batting practice to games pitched. I think that in spring training, it will be much more clear to all of us that he’ll be ready to go right from the start of the season.”
On Junichi Tazawa:
“To see the way he’s come back from the rehab, seeing him live against us, not only the quality of the stuff but the power to his fastball, his split-finger, all the pitches that he had when he first came over from Japan, he’s more physically mature now than he was three or four years ago. The fact that he’s pitching with no restriction mentally that he might have been feeling with the discomfort in his arm, it’s impressive to see the way he attacked hitters, and quality hitters that he was able to dominate at times. That’s the one guy who has made huge strides over the last couple of years.”