FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox tried something creative last season when they installed Bobby Valentine as manager. The hope was that he would catch the attention of a talented team that had lost its way.
“It was pretty obvious what they wanted to do,” reliever Andrew Miller said. “There was, on a lot of people’s parts, an effort to change the style. They wanted a different kind of personality.”
In new manager John Farrell, the Red Sox are placing a safer bet. Today, as the team went through its first full-squad workout, the difference in style was hard to miss.
When third base coach Brian Butterfield gathered a group of players around him to explain a base-running drill, Farrell stood five feet away listening. In the bullpen, Farrell only occasionally interjected his opinion to a pitcher. He left it to pitching coach Juan Nieves to say the most.
Unlike last season, you had to look around to find the manager, not listen.
“It’s fair to say it’s a little different, just the tone. If you stand out there, you don’t hear the manager. With Bobby, he had a certain presence and we knew where he was,” Miller said.
Miller was quick to add that the players, not Valentine, bear the build of the responsibility for last season’s failures. But it’s clear the players as a group appreciate Farrell’s methods.
“The way he goes about his business is great. He comes in here with confidence and ready to work,” third baseman Will Middlebrooks said. “But it’s not his way or the highway. It’s what we need to better ourselves as a team.
“He’s knows we’re professionals, he knows we know how to work. If he sees something, he won’t say something in front of the whole group. He’ll take you off to the side. He makes it an individual thing.”
Farrell also appears to have chosen wisely in hiring his coaches. Unlike last season, when Valentine had a fractious group, Farrell has all close confidants who share his vision.
“You seek the best available people and give them the freedom to do their work. To look over one’s shoulder all the time and micromanage, I think that’s a de-motivator and doesn’t allow for the creativity of the individual to come out,” Farrell said. “We’ve got that in place with our staff and the individuals that comprise the staff.”
See the Globe tomorrow for more on Farrell and the influence is having in his return to the Red Sox.