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Blue Jays gamble on new manager John Farrell
“I’m coming into this situation with a clean slate,” he said. “I don’t have a lot of preconceived notions, preconceived restrictions on things that I might see or look to do inside a game.”
Hardly, Blue Jays general manger Alex Anthopoulos suggested. In Farrell, he’s getting not just Boston’s pitching coach for the past four seasons but Cleveland’s former director of player development as well.
From 2002-06, Farrell oversaw the Indians' farm system _ players, coaches and staffs _ and programs in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. He dealt with acquiring major league players and signing minor league free agents.
“He’s going from a 12-man bullpen to a 25-man roster,” Anthopoulos said. “With Cleveland he was responsible for the entire minor league system.”
Farrell isn’t the first to have taken this path. Big league managers have been successful despite never having plied their trade in the bushes. Gaston, Lou Piniella and Joe Torre readily come to mind.
It’s likely he was on several other teams’ radar, one reason the Red Sox gave him a more lucrative contract after 2008. Boston added a clause prohibiting him from talking to other teams about a job until the 2010 season ended.
That kept the Indians, for whom he pitched in five of his eight big league seasons, from pursuing Farrell after they fired manager Eric Wedge following the 2009 season.
Now that Toronto’s got him, he said, one of his first and most important tasks is listening to his coaches, some of them holdovers from Gaston’s staff. And he’s coming in with an advantage over many new managers.
“This wasn’t a 100-loss team wiping the slate clean,” Farrell said. “This is an 85-win club moving in the right direction. From across the field you could see there were a lot of good things happening. Conversations with Alex reinforced that.”
New managers often bring with them familiar hands. While Farrell brought former Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu to be his bench coach, he retained three of Gaston’s principal coaches: Brian Butterfield (third base), Bruce Walton (pitching) and Dwayne Murphy (hitting).
“I’d be crazy not to listen to them,” Farrell said. “It’s important to give people a chance to offer opinions, and motivational as well.”
By Tammy Bruce
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