BOSTON — 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.