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Red Sox eye Farrell for vacant manager's job

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Red Sox eye Farrell for vacant manager's job

BOSTON (AP) John Farrell sat in the visitors' dugout at Fenway Park as talk intensified that he might be working in the other dugout next year.

The Toronto manager looked up at two dozen reporters a month ago and told them that as Boston's pitching coach for four years under Terry Francona he learned an important lesson: think of the players first in making managerial decisions.

If you do that, he said, ``you probably are guided in the right direction to do the right thing.''

Since that session before the opener of the Blue Jays' three-game sweep of the Red Sox, Bobby Valentine has been fired as Boston's manager and Farrell has emerged as the leading candidate to take over. But he has a year left on his contract and the Red Sox would have to discuss compensation with the Blue Jays to make him available.

Valentine didn't always make the players his top priority before he was fired on Thursday after going 69-93 in his only season, Boston's worst record in nearly 50 years.

He said in April that Kevin Youkilis wasn't as physically or emotionally into the game as he had been, kept Jon Lester in a game long enough to allow 11 runs and said as the miserable season kept getting worse that the Red Sox had ``the weakest roster we've ever had in September in the history of baseball.''

Valentine's predecessor, Francona, rarely criticized players in public. Management likely is looking for the same from Valentine's successor.

That's not the only difference in this year's managerial search from last year's, when Valentine wasn't hired until Dec. 1. That was 64 days after Boston's last game and 62 after Francona was let go.

``I'd prefer to have it done in less time,'' general manager Ben Cherington said of the current search, but it's more important to get the right person.

The Red Sox likely will look for a person with different attributes this time than they did during last year's search, especially with a younger roster after the team traded high-priced, underperforming veterans Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to the Los Angeles Dodgers in August.

``The team is in a different point than it was last year when we hired Bobby,'' Cherington said. ``The roster was fairly mature and we felt, mistakenly in retrospect, but we felt at the time, that we had a chance to win and the team was ready to win and we're now at a different point.''

But he refuted the suggestion that the Red Sox aren't ready to win next season.

``To be elite again we needed to make more than cosmetic changes,'' Cherington said. ``So now we're very early in the process of doing that and we're going to work our tails off to put the best team we can out there in 2013 and build the next great Red Sox team. We don't know exactly when that will come to fruition.''

Others who could be candidates for the job are Cleveland interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr., Detroit third-base coach Gene Lamont and Toronto first-base coach Torey Lovullo, a former manager of the Red Sox Triple-A team at Pawtucket. All were interviewed by the Red Sox last year before Valentine was hired.

Boston bench coach Tim Bogar and Baltimore third-base coach DeMarlo Hale, Francona's former bench coach, also could be considered.

The Red Sox wanted to talk with Farrell last year but were rebuffed. The Blue Jays may be more willing after his second losing season in his two years in Toronto.

Farrell was Boston's pitching coach from 2007, when the Red Sox won the World Series, to 2010 and helped Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz develop into productive pitchers. He's also familiar with many veterans and minor leaguers in the Red Sox system.

And, as Cleveland's director of player development from November 2001 to the end of the 2006 season, he worked with current Boston assistant general manager Mike Hazen, who held scouting and player development positions with the Indians from 2001 to 2005.

Farrell also worked with many current members of Red Sox management.

``Not only are they professional colleagues, on some level they became personal friends and we had success,'' he said on Sept. 7 as he sat in the third-base dugout. ``We shared a lot of challenges along the way.''

That familiarity would make him a much safer choice than Valentine. Cherington preferred Dale Sveum, who ended up as manager of the Chicago Cubs.

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino, a strong backer of Valentine when he was hired, said on Thursday, ``as well as you may know someone casually or through the interview process, you get to know them better when you have a full season together. So, of course, (there were) some surprises, positive and negative surprises.''

The Red Sox would like fewer surprises and more stability from their next manager.

``I don't think there's a certain resume or background'' necessary, Cherington said. ``These jobs bring all sorts of challenges. There's a person who's right for the Red Sox job in 2013 who isn't right for another team's job or who might not have been right for our job last year or the year before.''

Farrell may be the right person this time, if the Blue Jays let him go to a team with a larger and more demanding group of fans and media contingent.

``Having worked in Boston,'' he said a month ago, ``there's a tremendous fan base that is very passionate. The expectations are always very high, but, as a competitor, that's what you aspire to do.''

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How one half of assertive basketball may turn around the Wizards' season

How one half of assertive basketball may turn around the Wizards' season

The fat lady wasn’t warming up to sing an operatic number, not with 66 games left in the regular season. Then the flailing Washington Wizards, coming off consecutive double-digit losses, came out flat yet again. They trailed the Los Angeles Clippers by 19 points at halftime some 36 hours after the general public heard about their private quarrels and following weeks of basketball nightmares. 

As the Clippers scored 40 points in the first quarter and led 73-54 at halftime. she might have at least begun some mental prep for an upcoming performance. Then came the comeback within the comeback. The Wizards rallied for a 125-118 win when all the world was ready to say sayonara. 

Did Washington indeed save its season by outscoring Los Angeles 71-45 in the second half? Answering 'yes' presumes all is right with the gang that has struggled to defend throughout the season and possibly has chemistry issues even a family therapist couldn’t fix with thrice-weekly sessions. 

The day began with coach Scott Brooks and the team’s stars addressing leaks of intense arguments among players and a scolding by All-Star John Wall directed to the head coach. There was no spark initially even with a different starting lineup. 

The first half served as a season-long microcosm. It’s why rumors of breaking up the team seem plausible. 

Over the remaining 24 minutes, the Wizards finally woke up. They flew around the court defensively and passed to the open man. The stars led. The team played like a group wanting to play for each other, willing to do whatever necessary for a win.

John Wall finished with 30 points. Bradley Beal scored 27. Otto Porter grabbed 14 rebounds to go with 11 points. Six players scored in double figures. Everybody ate. 

“That’s how we need to play,” Beal told NBC Sports Washington. “Not going to say everything is fixed because we were still down [24 points], still have a lot of work to do. Got a lot of to change and get better. Our effort was there in the second half. That’s the type of intensity we have to have for the full 48.”

Numerous moments and performances stood out in the second half beyond the main players. Tomas Satoransky’s hustle helped begin the turnaround. Thomas Bryant, who started with Dwight Howard sidelined, provided interior energy. Jeff Green dropped 20 points. Markieff Morris, coming off the bench for the first time since Feb. 29, 2016, showed more than in recent games.

One play deep in the fourth quarter showed the difference between 16 games of defensive slumber and Tuesday’s resolve. 

The clock ticked under five minutes with Los Angeles leading 109-107. Clippers forward Tobias Harris crushed the Wizards early and finished with 29 points. He had the ball near the left corner when Wall and Beal sprung an aggressive trap as the shot clock wound down. Morris over hustled for support. The late arrival helped. Shot clock violation, Wizards ball. Washington then took the lead with a Morris 3-pointer. They soon pulled away with an 11-2 run. Their main players showed the way.

“We have to,” Beal said to NBC Sports Washington. “When it’s coming from the main guys. John and I have to give more, more and more. That’s something we realize and tell each other that. That’s that only way we’re going to get out of it. We just have to give more.”

The Thanksgiving holiday provides a natural break. Washington resumes game action Friday at Toronto. At 6-11, the Wizards have work to do, but at least they can catch their breath after a surreal span. 

“It’s a whirlwind. It’s a whirlwind,” said Beal, who remained in the game after suffering a cut over his eye following a head-butt collision with Clippers guard Tyrone Wallace. “We embrace it. Everything is a challenge. It’s adversity. We’ve been in this situation before. We’ve been in this situation where everybody thinks we have an issue. I think we did a great job of ignoring it as best we could. Doing what we could to get a win. A  much-needed win at that.”

Clippers coach Doc Rivers monitors the Wizards because his son, Austin, serves Beal’s primary backup. More film work came leading into the second meeting between the teams. Los Angeles hammered Washington 136-104 on Oct. 28. Things were only getting worse for the Wizards. Then came the second half.

“They just forgot about the stuff they’re going through and got back to playing basketball,” Doc Rivers said of the Wizards.

“I’ve always thought that’s what you have to do. Every guy out there on both teams, they played basketball all their lives. Then you get all the, what I call ‘stuff.’ The clutter starts affecting your game. Tonight you could see the clutter was killing them early. Then when they saw they had a chance to win, they started playing basketball again.”

Assume nothing but sunshine and swishes going forward if you must. Ideally, the Wizards do not. They have work remaining. In the second half against the Clippers, Wall, Beal, and crew rose up. In doing so, the fat lady took a seat.

We’ll see for how long.

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Markieff Morris unhappy with leaks coming out of Wizards' locker room

Markieff Morris unhappy with leaks coming out of Wizards' locker room

The Wizards had just completed a 24-point comeback against the L.A. Clippers, but something wasn't sitting right with power forward Markieff Morris.

When asked by a reporter if it was nice to get the win given their recent losing and the media controversy surrounding the team, Morris couldn't help but wonder who it was who leaked comments made by players behind closed doors at a practice last week.

There were very specific quotes cited by several media outlets and Morris wants to know where they came from. 

"It's f***ed up what's going on," he said.

"The comments that's coming from the locker room, that's f***ed up."

Morris went on to say that anonymous sources leaking information shouldn't "happen in sports." Many professional athletes see the locker room and team-only events like practice as sacred. Anyone who breaks that code is, in their eyes, a traitor.

If Morris knew who the information came from, it sounds like he would do something about it.

"I don't know who it is, so it's hard to address. But it's messed up," he said.

Which player or member of the organization spilled the beans could be a question for this team all season. It doesn't sound like Morris will forget that it happened.

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