Jon Lester sends positive message to John Farrell after lymphoma diagnosis


Jon Lester sends positive message to John Farrell after lymphoma diagnosis

All things considered, Jon Lester came away from a conversation with John Farrell feeling optimistic about the Boston Red Sox manager’s Stage 1 lymphoma diagnosis.

On Friday at Fenway Park, Farrell revealed that he will be taking a medical leave of absence and begin chemotherapy, responding to a “highly curable” condition detected this week during hernia surgery. 

Farrell had been a huge influence on Lester, helping the lefty develop into one of the best big-game pitchers of his generation, someone the Cubs felt comfortable giving a six-year, $155 million megadeal last winter.

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Lester beat cancer and earned two World Series rings with the Red Sox while Farrell worked as the pitching coach (2007) and manager (2013).

“I don’t really think you give John too much advice,” Lester said after Friday’s 6-5 win over the White Sox, surrounded by reporters inside U.S. Cellular Field’s visiting clubhouse. “He’s pretty strong-willed. I would imagine he’ll be fine. I’m sure it’s a little bit of a blow for his family. But I’m sure he’ll be fine through this whole process.”

One of Farrell’s three sons – Shane – works for the Cubs in the team’s amateur scouting department. Boston bench coach Torey Lovullo – a managerial candidate the Cubs had on their radar after the 2013 season – will manage the Red Sox for the rest of the season.  

Lester received treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital while dealing with his own cancer scare, which cut short his 2006 season after an anaplastic large-cell lymphoma diagnosis that August. By October 2007, Lester beat the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in the game that clinched a World Series title.

“He seems pretty positive,” Lester said. “It’s obviously one of the better places – if not the best place – in the country to be if you do have cancer. He’s in good hands. I know those doctors pretty well.”

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That experience helped shape the “Never Quit” message Lester keeps sending through the charitable foundation he’s aligned with now. Lester met with Anthony Rizzo when the future All-Star first baseman got diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a Red Sox prospect in 2008.

“I don’t think you can ever really prepare for a situation like that,” Lester said. “It’s just one of those things you have to ride out. You have to do what the doctors tell you to do.

“You just have to kind of grind through it.”

Joe Girardi steps down as manager for Olympic qualifying team to pursue MLB openings

Joe Girardi steps down as manager for Olympic qualifying team to pursue MLB openings

Joe Girardi’s name has come up for just about every managerial opening in Major League Baseball and it sounds like he is all in on pursuing that opportunity.

Girardi was set to manage USA Baseball’s Olympic qualifying team. He was named the manager of Team USA in August. His first tournament was going to be the upcoming Premier12 tournament, which is the first chance to qualify for the Olympics. Camp was set to begin on Oct. 21 and the U.S.’s first game is Nov. 2.

Instead, Girardi has stepped down. USA Baseball broke the news with a press release that announced Scott Brosius, a former teammate of Girardi’s on the Yankees, will take over.

The reason is the interesting part. He stepped down “as he pursues open managerial opportunities in Major League Baseball.”

At the very least, it sounds like Girardi is interested in at least one of the openings in MLB. He interviewed with the Cubs last week so this won't quell any speculation that he would come back to the North Side as a manager.

David Ross may still be the odds on favorite to fill the Cubs’ vacancy, but Girardi’s apparent interest in rejoining the ranks of MLB managers is certainly noteworthy. One would think if Girardi wants to get back into managing in MLB, at this indicates, he will get a job. Now the question is where he will land.

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Joe Maddon already has a new job, signs on with Angels

Joe Maddon already has a new job, signs on with Angels

Barring a Cubs-Angels World Series, the Wrigley Field faithful might not have much of an opportunity to welcome Joe Maddon back to The Friendly Confines.

It didn't take long for Maddon to find a job, as he reportedly agreed this week to join the Los Angeles Angels as their next manager. This was a widely speculated move after the Angels let go of manager Brad Ausmus just one year into a three-year contract immediately after the Cubs announced they were parting ways with Maddon. 

According to ESPN's Jesse Rogers, Maddon's deal will likely be for three years at $4-5 million a season:

Maddon came up as a coach in the Angels system, referencing his three decades there often during the course of his five years in Chicago.

Once the Cubs got rid of Maddon, it was obvious he would have plenty of suitors, as just about any team with a managerial vacancy would be interested in the future Hall of Famer. But instead of going to an up-and-coming team like the Padres or a squad on the cusp of the playoffs like the Phillies, Maddon opted to return to his baseball home.

That means he will most likely not face off against the Cubs over the next couple of seasons, as the Cubs hosted the Angels in 2019 and are not slated to play each other again until 2021 (which will take place in L.A.). Barring the aforementioned World Series meeting, Maddon and the Cubs likely won’t cross paths in Chicago for the next few seasons.

It also means Maddon will get to team up with the best player in the game (Mike Trout) and an exciting young two-way star (Shohei Ohtani) while inheriting a roster that otherwise has some major flaws. The Angels have struggled to build up a roster around Trout over his nine seasons, making the playoffs just once in 2014 and getting bounced from the ALDS by the Kansas City Royals that season.

But the Angels do have some intriguing prospects coming up the system — led by outfielder Jo Adell — and Maddon has experience taking a team and elevating them to contender status immediately. He also carries immediate clout that will help draw free agents to L.A., as he did in Chicago with Jon Lester.

Maddon will be reunited with former Cubs fan favorite Tommy La Stella, who was starring for the Angels earlier this season before a leg injury sent him to the shelf for several months.

In many ways, this is an ideal fit for Maddon, who will get to stay in a big market with a team willing to spend and a roster that at least has some incredible talent from Day 1. It would obviously be a difficult task to try to overtake the juggernaut Houston Astros in the AL West, but he accomplished a similar feat in Chicago when he led the Cubs past the Cardinals in Year 1 (and kept the Cards out of the playoffs for the next three years until their return to October baseball this fall).

The Cubs, meanwhile, have not yet announced a new manager, though David Ross still looms as the favorite to take over Maddon's former gig. Theo Epstein's front office interviewed Mark Loretta, Will Venable, Joe Girardi and Ross earlier this month and also planned to talk to Joe Espada and Gabe Kapler this week.

Epstein said the Cubs are "full speed ahead" to hire a new manager, so expect them to move quickly to finalize Maddon's heir.