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John Farrell: Alex Cora inheriting 'a stacked team' with Red Sox

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John Farrell: Alex Cora inheriting 'a stacked team' with Red Sox

In a TV appearance Wednesday, John Farrell took a matter-of-fact approach with the Red Sox’ decision to fire him. 

“Hey, every situation has a shelf life and a change was made and I respect the change that did take place,” Farrell told Harold Reynolds and Matt Vasgersian in an appearance on MLB Network’s Hot Stove. “It’s a stacked team as it stands today. Alex Cora is inheriting a very good team with a lot of expectations, which, that’s the norm there. But it’ll be interesting to see how things unfold.”

Wednesday was the first time Farrell has made public comments since issuing a statement through the Red Sox when he was fired in October. He was set to appear on three MLB Network shows throughout Wednesday, including High Heat at 1 p.m. ET and MLB Tonight at 6 p.m.

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Farrell was asked about the challenges for new managers with little to no experience. Cora spent one year as the Astros’ bench coach, while Aaron Boone, introduced Wednesday as the Yankees’ manager, has never coached or managed.

“It’s no doubt going to be the scrutiny,” Farrell said. “And that’s going to have varying degrees depending on the city. You know coming out of five years in which there might have been the most scrutiny on a team on an individual player or a manager, and that’s Boston. But that’s also what draws people to those places, that the expectation is high and the ability to win is there every single year. And if that’s not in your DNA, and that’s not what you aspire to do, and that’s to win, maybe those places aren’t for you. So the talk certainly of Aaron Boone going into New York, I don’t know if he managed anywhere else would he be ready for the job that he’s walking into, I don’t know that you can prepare for those positions until you’re in them. I think it’s great to see. Great hire in Aaron Boone.”

Farrell, a former pitching coach, was asked what traps he would advise Mickey Callaway to avoid as Callaway, also a former pitching coach, begins managing the Mets. Farrell said he’s spoken with Gary DiSarcina, the 2017 Red Sox bench coach under Farrell who is now Callaway’s bench coach.

“Mickey’s going to lean on Gary a lot,” Farrell said. “And the fact is that Mickey’s reference is always going to be from a pitching standpoint. He’s going to know the ins and the outs of the mindset of a pitcher. What the mindset is of a position player? That’s going to be all new to Mickey. 

“Relying on his coaches around him, use ‘em to the best of his ability to give that feedback, and seventh inning on, those decisions are going to come fast and the game’s going to speed up. So, having that rapport and that conversation and that dialogue ongoing, Torey Lovullo was a great help to me along the way.”

Callaway, Farrell said, is going “to have a great ability to connect with guys.”

“That’s almost a buzzword today, is how are you connecting with individual players,” Farrell said, “and he’ll do a very good job.”

Reynolds followed up with a question about what Farrell meant by the seventh inning speeding up.

“More of your decisions, certainly with the bullpen — starters are probably going to be nearing the end of your day, so you got decisions to be made there,” Farrell said. “You’re running out of outs, and are you at the point where you can continue to sacrifice outs? To put a man in motion, to try to do some things offensively? So as the sand is dripping through the hourglass, the magnitude of those decisions become a little bit more at that point.”

The Red Sox under Cora hired Ramon Vazquez to serve what Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski called a quality control role. In the press release, Vazquez was termed a “liaison between the major league club’s advance scouting and statistical analysis efforts, for the purpose of presenting information to players and coaches.”

Farrell was asked about the flow of information in a question that was not directly related to the Red Sox. But from his answer, one can infer Farrell would have been a fan of adding someone like Vazquez had he stayed around.

“The biggest marker in the use of the information — because every team has got the information available to them — what is the structure in the system in place to deliver it to the player to be more applicable to their game?” Farrell said. “So if there is not a liaison, if there’s not a coach that is well versed in all the PITCHf/x, to all the objective data that’s available, if that kind of falls by the wayside, then it’s going to waste. So it’s, what organizations are putting that system in place to make it tangible, understandable, and really kind of water it down to the point of two or three key points.”

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Red Sox' Dustin Pedroia is back and, while he may not admit it, he's changed

Red Sox' Dustin Pedroia is back and, while he may not admit it, he's changed

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Dustin Pedroia swears he hasn’t changed since entering the league in 2006. Fine, he’ll concede he has a few more grey hairs, but that is about it. 

Things, however, have changed. As Pedroia and I chatted about his kids at his locker on Friday morning, the Red Sox second baseman was pulling on a knee brace. It will be as much a part of his uniform this season as the number 15 stitched into his New Balance cleats. 

Pedroia will wear the brace as he continue to make his comeback from knee surgery in 2017. The cartilage restoration procedure involved grafting cartilage from a cadaver into his left knee. It’s a surgery that caused him to have second thoughts. 

“I don’t regret doing it,” he said, “But looking back, knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have done it.”

The operation resulted in Pedroia missing all but three games in 2018. He admitted that in hindsight you can’t expect to put a cadaver’s knee in your body and play ball in six months. Yet that’s exactly what Pedroia tried to do.

“I might have pushed it too hard or done too much. But as far as following directions, I followed every step. I think some of the directions, timing-wise, were a little off.”

A lesson learned. A man changed. Whether he’ll readily admit it or not. 

Pedroia has a Rookie of the Year Award to go along with an MVP, but what he’s best known for is his relentless nature on the field. 

If Dustin Pedroia can play, he wants to be in the lineup. When healthy, we would always hear managers talk about having to force him to take a day off.

Last season Pedroia had 159 days off. Enough time to think about how to stay on the field, even if it means he’s not playing night after night. 

Over the 20-plus minutes Pedroia spent talking to the media on Friday, he repeatedly used the word “smart”. 

The second baseman is going to be smart about his rehab. He will be smart about the number of ground balls he fields in spring. He’ll be smart about the kinds of plays he makes on the field. 

The guy who didn’t feel like he really played in a game unless his uniform was covered in dirt, knows he can’t sacrifice his body unless the game absolutely requires it.

“If we are up by ten runs and a guy hits a ball [and] I don’t know if I can make the play,” he said, "I’m sure our pitcher will understand if i don’t dive for it and it goes through.”

Make no mistake about it, Pedroia will go to any length to win a game. But this year, he’s not going to play stupid. He knows if he is reckless with his 35-year-old (36 in August) body, it could all be over. 

“I don’t want to push it and not be able to do what I love to do. I just have to be smart.”

He’ll also continue to be relentless in his pursuit to get back on the field. Manager Alex Cora said he’d like to reward Pedroia’s hard work by letting him bat leadoff when the Red Sox open the season in Seattle on March 28. 

“I appreciate him doing that,” Pedroia said, “He better not give me too many days hitting leadoff if I stay there. I think these guys have seen how hard I’ve worked to come back. To give me that opportunity would be cool.”

But the guys Pedroia really wants to impress? The sons we talked about on Friday morning. 

“The most important thing for me coming back is my kids seeing me push through adversity.”

Sounds like something an older, wiser, smarter dad would say. 

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The future for Red Sox utilityman Brock Holt? 'I would love to play here forever'

The future for Red Sox utilityman Brock Holt? 'I would love to play here forever'

There's been plenty of focus on the status of Dustin Pedroia in the first few days of Red Sox' spring training as the former All-Star second baseman and American League MVP tries to come back from essentially an entire season off after knee surgeries.

The player who manned second base throughout most of the Red Sox's World Series run, Brock Holt, is the other side of the coin of the Pedroia equation. With president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski saying earlier this week that 120-125 games for Pedroia as the "main guy" at second is the goal, where does that leave Holt?

The utilityman seemed to find a home at second as he bounced back from his own injury issues with post-concussion syndrome and anxiety to have a solid regular season (.277/.362/.411, seven homers, 46 RBI in 109 games) and a history-making performance in the ALDS (the first-ever postseason cycle in the 16-1 romp over the Yankees).

Holt, 30, may not the first potential free agent Red Sox fans think of with Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez and Rick Porcello all in their walk years, but the play-anywhere veteran, now in his seventh season in Boston, has proven his value and said he'd love to stick around after 2019. 

"I would love to play here forever. That’s what I want to do," Holt told WEEI's "Mut and Callahan" show on Friday. "If something like that comes up and we can work something out that would be the best-case scenario. But there are a lot of guys in here who are coming free here soon, so there are a lot of decisions to make. They’ll make the right ones. I’m glad we’re here all at the time, though."

Holt's signature versatility could come in handy as he plots his future.

"I’m just trying to keep building off the successes I had last year and hopefully, just continue to help this team," he said. "I feel like I can help any team and teams nowadays are looking for guys who can play different spots and have versatility. That helps me out."

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