The Boston Red Sox on Tuesday officially introduced John Farrell as the 46th manager in team history at a Fenway Park news conference.
"His integrity, leadership skills, intelligence are second to none and make him the right person for this job," general manager Ben Cherington said to kick off the conference.
The Red Sox on Saturday came to terms with Farrell on a three-year contract after completing compensation negotiations with Farrell's former employer, the Toronto Blue Jays, in which the Red Sox sent shortstop Mike Aviles to the Jays for journeyman reliever David Carpenter.
"It is very much a privilege," Farrell said Tuesday. "I am honoured and humbled to be standing here today."
This will be Farrell's second stint with the Red Sox. He was the team's pitching coach from 2007-2010.
In his comments to reporters, Farrell stressed a Red Sox team that was perceived as fractured this season would speak with "one voice" under his leadership and that trust would be paramount. He said he has already begun to re-establish relationships and would continue to do so as one of his first tasks, along with filling out his coaching staff.
"Yes, there are some relationships still existing with some of the players here but by no means will that be taken for granted," Farrell said. "There's familiarity. There's an understanding of maybe the person I am and certainly who they are. But it'll be my approach go back in -- that's already started with conversations and a sit down with David (Ortiz) here already earlier today -- to start to earn that trust and re-establish all those relationships."
When asked why this Red Sox job was attractive to him, he pointed to the significance of baseball to the region.
"I think Boston, in my mind, and it may be debatable across the country, this is the epicentre of the game," he said. "To come in and have at least four years of experience previous, not having sat in this seat, but been close to it to see the demands of the position, the passion of this region, the energy that is in this ballpark every single night. I think to a certain extent that energy and what people expect holds our players accountable with the effort that they put out every single night."
Farrell also stressed the importance of pitching, particularly starting pitching, and said he would be an aggressive manager, both on the basepaths and in other areas.
"We are extremely happy to have John Farrell back in our organisation," Red Sox owner John Henry said in a statement released in advance of the introductory news conference. "Ben Cherington and John will form a very strong partnership in leading this club back to where it needs to be. John knows our club and division well. His baseball knowledge is unsurpassed and his background is diverse and rich. John is an articulate leader who has always had the respect of everyone who dealt with him at the Boston Red Sox."
Farrell, who in his first year in Boston won a World Series ring in 2007, inherits a team that lost 93 games and finished in last place for only the second time in the last 80 years. Manager Bobby Valentine was fired a day after the season ended. Under Valentine, the Red Sox not only endured an unprecedented siege of injuries but were racked with internal issues that pitted the manager against players and coaches.
The Sox interviewed four other candidates for the position before deciding on Farrell: Dodgers third-base coach Tim Wallach, Yankees bench coach Tony Pena, Padres special assistant Brad Ausmus and Orioles third base coach DeMarlo Hale. Like Farrell, Hale had been a member of Terry Francona's coaching staff in Boston.
"Ben Cherington led a thoughtful, thorough, and detailed process," team chairman Tom Werner said in a statement. "We examined some excellent candidates, any one of whom will be a good manager. With John Farrell, we have someone with a great track record in our organization, someone who has great relationships in our organisation. We believe he will play a key role in restoring our club to the levels of success we have enjoyed over the past decade. We are elated to have him back."
Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos said that Farrell told him of his desire to return to Boston a few days after the end of the regular season.
"This was a dream job for him, an opportunity he really wanted to pursue,'' Anthopoulos said in a conference call with reporters Sunday afternoon.
At that point, Anthopoulos said, Toronto had not yet heard from the Red Sox, and he told Farrell that if the Red Sox didn't ask for permission within a few days, the Jays could not wait and that he was prepared to put "it to bed.''
But a couple of days later, Anthopoulos said, Henry called Blue Jays CEO Paul Beeston, setting the process in motion, confirming a report by ESPN Boston. Compensation talks took place primarily on the ownership level, Anthopoulos said.
"John Farrell has so many attributes that we admire. He gets it. He is a most impressive interview -- open, honest, and articulate," Sox president Larry Lucchino said in a statement Tuesday. "We did not know if we could pry him loose from the Blue Jays, but discussions were amicable, and we were able to hammer out an agreement with them and with him, and now we are eager to continue our efforts to construct this club for next season and beyond."
The Red Sox's pitching staff finished with the third-worst ERA (4.70) in the American League this past season, but it had thrived under Farrell. From 2007-10, Sox pitchers ranked first in the AL in strikeouts (4,771), opponents' batting average (.254) and was third in ERA (4.11).
"John has a great combination of skills, experience, and leadership ability," Cherington said in a statement Tuesday. "He's a pure baseball guy, with the ability to develop relationships across a broad spectrum. We look forward to working with him to build the next great Red Sox team."