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New manager Farrell aims to heal Red Sox

The SportsXchange

New Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell knows what he's getting into.

The former Red Sox pitching coach, who most recently was the Toronto Blue Jays' manager, is quite familiar with the problems Boston has endured the past two years. The Red Sox experienced a massive collapse in September 2011, costing manager Terry Francona his job, then had their worst season since 1965 this year, causing the team to fire Francona's replacement, Bobby Valentine.

"There will be tough conversations to have with individual players," Farrell said Tuesday during his introductory press conference at Fenway Park.

Farrell, who had a 154-170 record in two seasons with Toronto, received a three-year contract through the 2015 season. He was still under contract to the Blue Jays the 2013 season.

As compensation for acquiring the manager, the Red Sox sent shortstop Mike Aviles to the Blue Jays. Boston also received right-handed pitcher David Carpenter in the deal.

Farrell, 50, was the Red Sox's pitching coach from 2007-10 before he took over as the Blue Jays' skipper.

Perhaps in a nod to the specter of 2011 that still hangs over the Red Sox, Farrell said, "We will give forth our best effort, as a minimum."

After the 2011 season went sour, reports circulated of Red Sox pitchers drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games. The poor public image caused the team to dump the player-friendly Francona in favor of taskmaster Valentine, but the results were awful.

Boston went 69-93 in its lone season under Valentine, who drew fire from players, fans and the media for his caustic comments and criticism of players and his coaching staff.

Farrell hopes he'll be able to heal those wounds, in part due to his previous tenure with the team and his existing relationship with several of the team's veterans.

"We have a number of things to take care of," Farrell said. "We will have the players' best interest in their minds at all times.

"There's going to be challenges here. If there weren't challenges with this team, I probably wouldn't be sitting here. But there are a lot of things here that make it a natural fit."

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington cited his working rapport with Farrell as a plus.

"We think he's the right person to lead the team," Cherington said. "It's important that I have a relationship with a manager that's strong, one that we can be candid with one another and walk away knowing that the relationship is still intact. I feel confident with that and John."
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