BOSTON — As cameras clicked away, John Farrell tried on a Boston Red Sox cap.
The team can only hope it fits, for a long time.
The Red Sox took one of their first steps in what, they hope, is a return to their winning ways, introducing Farrell Tuesday as the 46th manager of this historic franchise.
Farrell, 50, replaces Bobby Valentine, who managed the Red Sox to their worst record (69-93) since 1965.
Just as Valentine should not bear the sole blame for a disastrous season, neither is Farrell a guarantee to return Boston to the World Series. Farrell debuted as a major league manager in 2011, guiding the Toronto Blue Jays to a 81-81 record. This year, Farrell’s Blue Jays finished 73-89.
But the Red Sox are comfortable with Farrell, who served as Boston’s pitching coach from 2007-2010.
“His integrity, leadership skills and intelligence are second to none, and make him the right person for this job,” Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington said.
“As we work to build the next great Red Sox team, we are extremely fortunate that John will be with us to lead that team on the field.”
And Farrell wants to be here. He asked the Blue Jays to release him from the remaining year on his contract. To do so, Toronto wanted compensation from Boston, and received shortstop Mike Aviles.
Farrell received a three-year contract from Boston.
“This is an incredible privilege to be standing here today,” Farrell said during Tuesday’s press conference at Fenway Park.
In my previous experience here, (the Red Sox organization) has represented nothing but first class, professionalism and, ultimately, success.
“I feel like we can hit the grounding running. We’ve got a lot to take care of.”
Before joining the Red Sox as pitching coach, Farrell was the Cleveland Indians’ director of player development for five years. Farrell had broken into the major leagues with the Indians, as a pitcher in 1987.
In a career that spanned 116 games over eight years, Farrell was 36-46 with a 4.56 ERA.
Now he is being asked to not only guide the Boston pitchers, but an entire team in need of direction.
Boston’s rebuilding process began in August when it traded three high-salaried players to the Dodgers – pitcher Josh Beckett, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and outfielder Carl Crawford.
Step No. 2 was to fire Valentine, which occurred the day after the season ended.
Now Farrell has the task of hiring a coaching staff, while Cherington needs to find more players for his new manager – namely a pitcher, outfielder and first baseman.