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Next pitch after Wedge?

Farrell is seen as Indians candidate

By Adam Kilgore
Globe Staff / October 1, 2009

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After the Indians fired manager Eric Wedge yesterday, speculation centered on Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell as a prime candidate to replace him because of his strong ties to the Cleveland organization and his high standing in the game.

Wedge, who led the Indians to one playoff appearance in seven seasons, will finish out the year, but he and his entire coaching staff have been told they will not be back in 2010.

Farrell’s contract contains a clause that prohibits him from managing until 2011. The language can be worked around, though. The Sox could allow Farrell to speak with the Indians, and would then receive compensation from the Indians if Farrell was offered the job and decided to leave.

“All it does is create a compensation opportunity for the Red Sox,’’ said a league official.

Sox general manager Theo Epstein said he had not yet been contacted by the Indians regarding Farrell. Before last night’s game against the Blue Jays, Farrell declined to comment.

Farrell lives in Cleveland in the offseason, served as the Indians’ director of player development from 2001-06, and pitched for the Indians from 1987-90 and 1995. With the Indians coming into Fenway Park today for a four-game series, the attention on Farrell will likely intensify.

Farrell has shown loyalty to the Sox since he arrived as pitching coach in 2007. Both the Seattle Mariners and the Pittsburgh Pirates wanted to interview Farrell for vacant managerial positions last offseason, and Farrell declined both overtures.

The Red Sox value Farrell not only for his handling of the major league staff, but also for insights into other areas of the organization. Epstein applauded how Farrell worked this season while several pitchers - notably John Smoltz, Brad Penny, Clay Buchholz, and Daisuke Matsuzaka - came and went.

“It’s been a year with challenges, almost like any other year,’’ Epstein said. “But with the pitching staff, some things we thought would go well didn’t. We had to fight our way through. No one is better than John at confronting a problem head-on.’’

In good health
Josh Beckett and Jon Lester, both of whom faced recent health scares, have emerged unscathed. Beckett threw a 62-pitch bullpen session yesterday and “everything went great,’’ manager Terry Francona said. Beckett remains on pace to start Saturday.

Lester is still on target to start tonight, taking his regular turn after it seemed that would be impossible last Friday in New York.

A line drive drilled Lester off the inside of the leg, inches above the kneecap, instead hitting his quadriceps, which Epstein called “a huge break.’’

Lester has not seen a replay of the line drive, perhaps the most frightening moment of the Red Sox season.

“I really don’t want to watch it,’’ he said.

Rest for weary
The Red Sox regulars who got the night off last night - which was almost all of them - were available but not likely to contribute. “Nobody’s hurt,’’ Francona said. “Nobody’s banged up. There might be a couple hung over. I don’t know. I haven’t been down there. This might not be a night to use the entire roster. We’ll see.’’ . . . Chris Woodward, who started at second base, will not be with the team until Saturday so he can be with his wife as her labor is induced . . . Jed Lowrie started at third base and, against righthander Roy Halladay, batted lefthanded for the first time since his most recent return. “That’s part of the reason he’s playing,’’ Francona said. “You’re always trying to get something accomplished. Some guys need rest. Some guys need to play. It’s a good night all the way around.’’

Pitching in
Dusty Brown became the first Red Sox catcher to pitch in a game. Brown pitched the ninth, allowing one run on two hits. Brown became the third position player to pitch for the Sox this season, following outfielder Jonathan Van Every and shortstop Nick Green. Like any position player who pitches, Brown entered out of desperation. Fernando Cabrera had not pitched for three weeks, so Francona did not want to push him too hard. The Sox had used Hunter Jones and Dustin Richardson lately, so they could only go for so long. Michael Bowden started Monday, so he was out. Daniel Bard was fresh, but pitching one of their top relievers in a meaningless game in which they were down by double digits made little sense. “We’re trying so hard to keep our pitching not only in order, but strong going forward,’’ Francona said. “So suck it up and take our beating.’’ “I never thought I would pitch in a major league game,’’ Brown said. “Take it as they come.’’ . . . Rocco Baldelli thought he would be in the lineup as the designated hitter. When he showed up, he realized he was in right field. By the end of the game - for the first time in his major league career - Baldelli was at third base. “The first I did before I even thought about anything was I said yes,’’ Baldelli said. “Then I started thinking about it after. Once I got out there, I thought I needed a cup.’’ He got one from Mike Lowell, and Kevin Youkilis gave him his glove. Baldelli hoped the Blue Jays would hit a ball his way, but none came.

Nick Cafardo of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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