It was made official over the weekend and now John Farrell has the jersey and hat to go along with his new job title. The 50-year-old Farrell was introduced to the Boston media Tuesday afternoon as the Red Sox new manager and the 46th in the franchises history. He replaces Bobby Valentine who was fired at the end of the 2012 season after a disastrous one-year stint at the helm of the clubhouse.
Farrell is quite familiar with the Red Sox organization as he spent four years as the teams pitching coach between 2006-2010 before signing a three-year deal to manage the Toronto Blue Jays prior to the 2011 season.
"His integrity, leadership skills and intelligence are second to none and make him the right person for this job, Boston general manager Ben Cherington said at Tuesday's press conference. "His broad set of experiences also give him opportunity to build relationships across a very broad spectrum in the clubhouse, throughout the organization and in the community… As we work towards building the next great Red Sox team we are extremely fortunate that John will be with us to lead that team on the field and we're excited to get going and work together.
But while Tuesday represented a new beginning for Farrell in baseball, he couldn't elude questions surrounding his previous job and what seemed to be a wavering commitment to the Blue Jays. He left the organization with a year left on his contract, and ever since the Terry Francona firing in 2011, talks of Farrell's return to Boston have seemed to be unending.
Sheri Forde of TSN let Farrell know that his name has taken a beating in the city over the past 48 hours and wondered what his reaction was to those who feel he was never going to fulfill his contract.
And while Farrell admitted that Boston was a city he wanted to return to, he took exception to the idea that there was never intent to fulfill his contract with the Blue Jays.
"This situation, coming to Boston came about a year ago [after] having spent one year in Toronto," Farrell said at the press conference in Boston. "The request was denied and in my conversations with Paul [Beeston] and Alex [Anthopoulos] I expressed to them that yes, this was a place that I cut my teeth as a major league coach. We experienced a lot of success, had a lot of strong relationships that still existed and I was very candid and honest with them. And when it came up again this year on the heels of two very extensive conversations I expressed the same interest again."
He also fielded another question surrounding the comment he made in early September that he was 'unequivocally' committed to the Blue Jays organization, a statement that came amidst the Farrell-Red Sox rumors.
"I made that statement and I stand by it," he said. "And in our year-end conversations, when I spoke with Alex he asked 'if Boston calls where do you stand on it?' And I said at the time that I would be interested in speaking with them. 'If you would approve it, I would be glad to speak to them.'"
So Boston management finally got their man and Farrell now has his dream job with an organization he's familiar with. But his appointment to lead the Red Sox has brought a mixed reaction from media around the city.
Famed Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan and Boston Herald reporter Steve Buckley debated whether Farrell is the right man for the job on a Comcast SportsNet segment. Ryan argued that in his two years as a manager with the Jays Farrell was unsuccessful and he cited the incident in which Jays shortstop Omar Vizquel called out the coaching staff for being unable to keep the team prepared in the clubhouse.
Buckley on the other hand is in support of the hire arguing that while Vizquel's comments and Yunel Escobar's eye-black controversy are causes for concern Farrell carried himself well during his last arc with the Red Sox and seems to be the right fit for the city of Boston.
Early reactions from Red Sox players seem to be in favour of Farrell's return to the club as well. John Lester told Comcast SportsNet that Farrell was "always well prepared as a pitching coach" and he feels he can certainly help him bounce back from a career-worst 9-14 record and 4.82 ERA last season. David Ortiz is also happy to have Farrell back and said he built good relationships with players his last time in Boston.
With a long off-season ahead all Farrell can hope for at this point is that the same positivity is swirling through the Red Sox clubhouse come this time next year.