Tomase: John Farrell won't give up job managing Red Sox without a fight

John Tomase
October 08, 2017 - 11:22 pm
John Farrell

David Kohl/USA Today Sports


John Farrell's office is as no-nonsense as the manager himself. The most prominent item on the wall behind his corner desk is an oversized 2017 team schedule. It's perpendicular to a display of headshots of previous Red Sox managers, flanked by a large framed photo of Farrell's childhood hero, Tom Seaver, pitching for Boston in 1986.

Farrell isn't big on knick-knacks. He's not Kevin Kennedy, erecting shrines to himself. There's a scorecard and commemorative wine bottles from the 2014 All-Star Game. There are some personal photos and signed baseballs. There's also a small wooden sign, posted on the shelf high above his desk, just below the ceiling.

At first it's easy to miss, and reading it requires a squint. Its message is simple: "Accept it. Deal with it. Move on."

They've been words to live by for the Red Sox as a team this year, but for their manager, in particular. When Farrell arrived at the park on Sunday morning, there were fans and media calling for his head. The Red Sox were about to be swept out of the American League Division Series for the second straight year, and that would require major changes.

Farrell, despite three division titles and one World Series in five years, would almost certainly be one of them, right?

But if he was feeling the heat, he didn't show it. As reporters gathered for a pregame chat, he gently chided one who had requested a Mookie Betts update the previous day, even though Farrell had already provided it.

"Are you going to ask me about Mookie again?" he needled.

He then reiterated his pride in a "close-knit" team that had won 93 games by refusing to accept defeat. Trailing the Astros 2-0 in the ALDS and facing elimination with Doug Fister on the mound, the Red Sox didn't exactly feel primed for a comeback. But Farrell calmly acknowledged what was at stake.

"If you don't win," he said, "you go home."

He then went out and managed his best game of the postseason, pushing the right buttons in a 10-3 victory that silenced talk about his future, at least temporarily, and put the Red Sox in a position to force a Game 5 in Houston if they can win Monday's Game 4.

Considering how the game started -- with the Red Sox in an immediate 3-0 hole -- Farrell deserves his due for coaxing a flawed roster to victory, particularly after struggling right alongside his players in Games 1 and 2.

"As we have seen so many times, the fight in our players, the resiliency that they have, we had to dig out of a hole," Farrell said.

Farrell managed this one aggressively, yanking Fister after just four outs. He then summoned David Price, two days after a 38-pitch outing, to start the fourth with a 4-3 lead, hoping to get two innings out of the big left-hander before handing the final four innings to setup man Addison Reed and closer Craig Kimbrel.

But Price, who had told Farrell he believed he had 80 pitches in him, delivered the same message every half inning: "I got this." So Farrell stuck with him through a scoreless fourth, and fifth, and sixth. When Price came back out for the seventh without so much as a reliever warming behind him, Farrell had opened himself to a gigantic second guess.

Price had other ideas. He worked around a Jose Altuve walk to retire the side, setting the stage for the six-run outburst that put the game away.

"We knew we were in a spot where we were going to have to improvise, and we were able to do that," Farrell said.

Did the win save his job? Who knows. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has consistently praised Farrell in ways that don't hint at read-between-the-lines displeasure. Even if the Red Sox had been swept on Sunday, it never felt like the odds of Farrell being dismissed were any better than 50-50.

That's because of the qualities the Red Sox exhibited on Sunday -- the resilience, the ability to rally, the refusal to dwell on past failures.

Accept it. Deal with it. Move on. They're John Farrell's version of, "win, dance, repeat." He has lived by those words throughout a challenging season, and now he and his team live to fight for at least one more day.

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