John Farrell to return as Red Sox manager in 2016

ByGordon Edes ESPN logo
Sunday, October 4, 2015

CLEVELAND -- John Farrell, who recently completed his final course of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, will return as manager of the Boston Red Sox in 2016.

Dave Dombrowski, the team's president of baseball operations, said he informed Farrell of his decision by telephone on Saturday.

In addition, Torey Lovullo, who has been serving as interim manager in Farrell's absence, will return as bench coach.

In an unusual move, the Red Sox signed Lovullo to a two-year contract extension in which he agreed to waive the right to pursue any managerial job openings this offseason.

According to a team statement on Sunday, 53-year-old Farrell has been given a "clean bill of health." He has been on medical leave since Aug. 14, and Lovullo guided the Red Sox to a 28-19 record as interim manager.

Dombrowski said Sunday that he has been told by doctors that Farrell's full recovery will take an estimated three to six months. Having Lovullo on board protects the club in the event Farrell's health becomes an issue and takes pressure off Farrell to rush his return before he is ready.

"The commitment is made to John, he'll be our manager for 2016, he should be fine," Dombrowski said Sunday, "but I also want to make sure how do we protect ourselves in case -- and again, I'm not saying it's going to be six months, I hope it's three months, and if it's three months, the time frame works out well. But what happens if it's six months?

"Well, you're already into the start of next season. You're also in a position where you start talking about spring training, preparation for spring training. It's a great time of year, but it can also be a grueling time of year. And I don't want that extra stress on [Farrell] to feel, 'I got to be ready, I got to be ready.'"

Dombrowski said he discussed his plan with owners John W. Henry and Tom Werner before presenting it to Lovullo at the beginning of the team's last homestand. Lovullo said he accepted Boston's offer last Thursday in New York.

"It's great news," Lovullo said of Farrell's impending return. "We're excited because we were looking for his good health. All along, we were all assuming John was coming back. There was no doubt in my mind, the rest of the coaching staff's mind. This is John's team. This is his job, and with good health he'll be back doing what he's supposed to do."

Because of his success with the Red Sox while Farrell was gone, Lovullo was expected to be a leading candidate for any managerial openings this winter. Lovullo, who has interviewed with six teams for managerial vacancies, including three last winter, was asked why he was willing to forgo the opportunity to do so again.

"I want to see this process through," he said, "I want to be here for John, I want to assist John in any way, and I want to just make sure that it lines up the way it was supposed to line up before I ran out on him. That's how I'm looking at it."

Dombrowski praised Lovullo for the job he's done, saying "he couldn't have handled himself any better,"acknowledged that he has not been in a position to evaluate Farrell as manager. Dombrowski's hiring was announced five days after Farrell took leave.

"He's managed successfully at the big-league level," Dombrowski said. "[The Red Sox] won a world championship in 2013. So I think, in reality, it's hard to find established major league managers who have won.

"I talked to a lot of people I trust. I look forward to working with him and hopefully with us working together, and he deserves that opportunity to do so. He has won a world championship. I guess time will tell, but he has proven he can win at the major league level and it's hard to find those guys."

Farrell, who has a 246-243 record in his three seasons, still has a couple more weeks left of recovery from his last cycle of chemotherapy. He has suffered severe headaches, endured crippling bouts of nausea, lost a full head of hair and felt the strength-sapping effect of the toxic chemicals intended to cure him.

In the coming weeks, there will be follow-up visits to the hospital to test whether the chemo has done its intended work.

In February, the Red Sox signed Farrell to a two-year extension through the 2017 season, and the team holds an option for the 2018 season.

The Sox also announced that first-base coach and outfield instructor Arnie Beyeler, whose contract was up, will not be renewed. Third-base coach Brian Butterfield, who also was at the end of his deal, will be back, while pitching coach Carl Willis and hitting coach Chili Davis, who still had years left on their contracts, will return. Also back are assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez and bullpen coach Dana LeVangie, who had been serving as Lovullo's bench coach in Farrell's absence.

Beyeler was tasked this season with converting Hanley Ramirez to left field, an assignment that proved untenable. In 2014, Beyeler played a big role in assisting Mookie Betts in his transition from second base to outfield.

Strength and conditioning coach Pat Sandora also is being let go after four seasons, meaning someone else will have a go at the out-of-shape Pablo Sandoval in 2016.

Meanwhile, Red Sox owner John Henry wasn't nearly as benevolent with his soccer team as he fired Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers on Sunday. Liverpool is 10th in the Premier League, having tallied just 12 points in eight matches.