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Red Sox manager John Farrell, shown earlier this season, will keep his job despite the vultures, writes columnist Mike Shalin. (USA TODAY SPORTS)

Mike Shalin's Working Press: Farrell's job is NOT in jeopardy


The vultures were circling again when John Farrell’s Red Sox lost their third straight game to the mediocre Oakland A’s last weekend. Some were suggesting a Sunday loss would prompt a new manager when the team got home.

We’ve been through this many times before with Farrell, although this one was complete with a column by the respected Ken Rosenthal saying Farrell was in trouble, that he wasn’t connecting with his players.

“Farrell, even when he won the 2013 World Series as a rookie manager, was not popular in all corners of the clubhouse,” Rosenthal wrote. “Some players, but not all, believe that he does not stand up for them strongly enough to the media when the team is struggling, sources say. Some also question Farrell’s game management, talk that exists in virtually every clubhouse, some more than others.”

This was the same stuff we heard about Farrell when he was in Toronto.

With storm clouds above, Dave Dombrowski said all the right things and didn’t even issue the dreaded “vote of confidence” that is often followed by a firing.

The leadership thing?

Two issues.

“The first occurred during the Red Sox’s prolonged dispute with the Orioles’ Manny Machado,” wrote Rosenthal. “Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, after Matt Barnes threw at Machado’s head, shouted across the field to Machado, ‘It wasn’t me,’ then told reporters that it was ’definitely a mishandled situation,’ without mentioning Barnes or Farrell by name...

“The second incident occurred last Saturday, when Farrell engaged in a heated exchange with left-hander Drew Pomeranz in the dugout . . . (Pomeranz’) willingness to publicly challenge Farrell, in an exchange captured by television cameras, offered another indication that the manager and some of his players are not always on the same page.”

But Farrell, like Claude Julien, who finally ran out of execution stays with the Bruins, seems to have escaped.

One thing in his favor is that Torey Lovullo is now in Arizona, where he took a 29-19 record into Thursday night’s game in Milwaukee. So, there’s no built-in replacement waiting in the wings.

You want him fired? Who you gonna hire?

Second, the Red Sox rebounded with 32 runs in three games, something that can make a manager look awfully smart.

In these eyes, firing this manager at this time would be a mistake. Ride it out and see what happens.

If you’re looking for a possible sign Farrell’s not going anywhere, consider this: The Red Sox Thursday announced a “Farrell Fighters” program that will bring lymphoma patients and their families to Fenway for VIP treatment that includes a visit with the manager.

“It was a challenging battle going through the treatment a few years ago, and beyond the support of family and friends, one of the things that helped me get through it was the escape I found in the game of baseball,” Farrell said in the team release. “I hope this program can provide a positive, momentary break for the patients and their families from the daily rigors of treatment, and for baseball to be a tonic for them, as it was for me.”

He’s impressed

Julian Edelman, who took part in Thursday’s rain-soaked workout at Gillette, was asked about newcomer Brandin Cooks.

“He works hard and he’s extremely fast,” Edelman said. “It’s not just Brandin, but it’s our whole room. We’ve got Hoges (Chris Hogan), Dola (Danny Amendola), Hawk (Andrew Hawkins) now, we’ve got Dev (Devin Lucien), Slate (Matthew Slater), Cody (Hollister), AC (Austin Carr), so you know we’ve got a competitive group in there. (It’s a) very smart room and as long as we continue to improve daily, usually that’s what makes the unit better.”

This from Ben Volin via Twitter: “Under Armour announces that Tom Brady will embark on a six-day trip to Asia in late June to talk football, training and recovery.”

Peter King, on his Monday Morning quarterback, had the still-Oakland Raiders as the No. 1 threat to the Patriots in 2017.

Productive debut

When Sam Travis began his major league career Wednesday night, a question rose in the press box over what percentage of players actually gets a hit his first time up. Travis was robbed of a single by Elvis Andrus.

So we threw an email at STATS LLC, and those stat wizards were able to quickly go back to 2000 and determine that 2,999 players batted for the first time in the big leagues and 473 of them had hits, for a .158 average.

Interested in the 2,999, we wondered if Travis, who finished his first game 2-for-4, was No. 3,000, but rookie pitcher Sam Gaviglia was debuting for the Mariners. So we don’t know which rookie was No. 3,000.

LeBron gets the nod

Former Pistons bad boy Bill Laimbeer weighed in on the argument of “Who’s better: LeBron James or Michael Jordan.”

“I’ll take LeBron James, absolutely,” Laimbeer said on “The Rematch” podcast earlier this month. “He’s 6-8, 285 (listed at 250). Runs like the wind, jumps out of the gym. Phenomenal leader since he’s been 12 years old. Understood when he came into the league how to involve his teammates from the start. And you can’t guard him. You can’t double-team, he’s too big, he powers through everything. Michael was a guard. Yea, he was 6-6, but he wasn’t a real thick and strong guard. It took him a lot of years to learn how to involve his teammates in order to win championships. Don’t fault him for that, it’s a learning experience. But we’ve never seen anybody like LeBron James physically. He just bullies you.

“LeBron can do anything. Michael couldn’t get all the rebounds. He couldn’t be the assist man like LeBron James can. He was very focused on scoring, a deadly assassin, but the rest of the part of his game, LeBron James is better than Michael Jordan.”

Could help

Would (or should) the Celtics have interest in veteran Marresse Speights, who opted out of his deal with the Clippers that paid him the veteran minimum $1.4 million last season? He played in all 82 regular-season games and averaged 8.7 points and 4.5 rebounds. The 6-10 Speights, who won a championship with Golden State, also made 37.2 percent of his shots from behind the 3-point line.

One guy who won’t help is Lonzo Ball. Danny Ainge announced Thursday that Ball (and his dad) won’t even be working out for Boston.

Ainge’s son, Tanner, a Republican, announced his candidacy for the Utah House seat being vacated by Jason Chaffetz.

Odell Beckham Jr. just signed a Nike shoe deal and this from @MMQB: “Odell Beckham’s Nike shoe deal: Five years, $29 million. Odell Beckham’s Giants deal: Four years, $10.36 million.” It’s the richest shoe deal for an NFL player and about two times more than any previous deal Nike had with a football player.

Adidas announced that the Bruins will be one of 13 NHL teams getting a jersey makeover for the coming season. Hopefully, that will include the shirts with the big bear on them, which apparently will happen as Adidas plans to eliminate all third jerseys.

Chris Sale has joined Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens as the only modern-era pitchers with 100 strikeouts in their first 10 starts of a season.

Sale faces his old team, the White Sox, in Chicago Monday night (David Price set to make his first start in that series). In typical Sale fashion, he shrugs the event off, saying, “I answer the phone when it rings. Doesn’t matter who’s on the other end.”

Finally, we give you LeBron’s take on the Celtics rallying without Isaiah Thomas: “That’s the beauty of having Brad Stevens as your coach. You reshape offensively and are still in rhythm.”

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com.


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