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Happy to be there

Posted by Maureen Mullen December 11, 2008 05:56 AM

John Farrell’s name has come up in each of the last two off-seasons as a potential candidate for several managerial vacancies. Although the Red Sox pitching coach is flattered to be considered, a manager’s job is not in his plans — for now.

“It is a career goal at some point, but I don’t wake up each day with the clock ticking or [with] a defined timeline to hopefully arrive at that spot,” Farrell said at the winter meetings in Las Vegas. “I’m firmly entrenched and committed to what I’m doing now, and it’s an honor to be considered. But at the same time, the challenges that we face here and the people that I’m meeting those challenges with are so rewarding that I do feel fortunate to be in the position that I’m in.”

Farrell, 46, just completed his second season with the Sox, after spending five years in the Indians’ front office as director of player development and the five prior seasons coaching at his alma mater, Oklahoma State University. So where does he see himself in five years?

“When I do [think along those lines], they’re fleeting moments because I don’t spend a whole lot of time worrying about what five years from now might bring,” said Farrell. “I am a firm believer that if you do your job well, that people will take notice. The people that you work with day in and day out, the pitchers that go before you, are going to be the voice for the work that you do day in and day out.

“I don’t worry about the next move. I don’t worry about the next level. I’m ambitious, no question, and I do think of things in five-year blocks. There’s the beginning of a track record that shows five years at Oklahoma State, five years plus in the front office in Cleveland. I can’t forecast that it’s going to be five years in this position because we’ve got a lot of work to do to get to that point.

“But to me, there’s kind of a natural cycle that in the first year you learn it, the second year you begin to make necessary changes, the third year you’re fully entrenched, year four you start to identify who the person is that could take over for you if that came up, and the fifth year maybe you fully turn it over to him and you’re on to the next set of challenges. That’s one way of looking at it. But I think it’s important to know that I don’t walk into the clubhouse every day thinking about three years from now or four years. That’s wasted energy.”

Farrell has been in contact with his pitching staff this off-season, but just to a certain extent.

“There’s a lot of text messages back and forth,” he said. “There’s periodic phone calls. I try to have some kind of regular rotation, for lack of a better word, and I try not to go too long without being in contact. But this is also the off-season for them, and they need their space.”

The contact between the coach and his pitchers will become more frequent as spring training draws closer.

“I will be staying up to date with how their workouts are going,” he said. “There’ll be more frequency of calls as throwing programs are initiated the last week of December. But I also look at pitchers as thoroughbred racehorses. They have to be put out to pasture for a certain amount of time to rejuvenate the mind, get away from the game. And I think there’s a lot of learning that goes on throughout the off-season.

“There’s a lot of reflection that each pitcher will [experience] when he’s working out or he’s throwing or he’s driving down the highway.”

Those who will be looking for better seasons include staff ace Josh Beckett (12-10, 4.03 ERA), who’s rehabbing an oblique strain, and Clay Buchholz, whose big-league struggles sent him back to the minors last season and led him to the Arizona Fall League.

“[Beckett is having] full workouts. He had a very good week in his first full week. There’s been no residual soreness or restrictions as far as range of motion. He’s doing full core exercise,” said Farrell. “[The oblique] probably wasn’t [100 percent] until he got back active and began to go through his workouts, [and] there was no flare-up of any kind.

“The reports that came back [on Buchholz] were very consistent and thorough, but I think it was most important for him to end the year on a positive note and go into the off-season prepared for spring training.”

Maureen Mullen covers the Red Sox for OT and can be reached at mmullen@globe.com

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Charles P. Pierce writes for the Boston Globe Magazine. A long-time sportswriter and columnist, Pierce is a frequent guest on national TV and radio.
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