BOSTON — John Farrell is more than a manager to Dustin Pedroia and many members of the Red Sox.
So when Farrell revealed to the team Friday afternoon that he’s been diagnosed with Stage 1 lymphoma, which will prevent him from managing the rest of this season, there was an air of disbelief throughout the Red Sox’s clubhouse at Fenway Park.
“A lot of the guys were shocked, upset,” Pedroia said after hearing the news. “I mean, it’s our manager, the leader of our team, family. We’re together so much. When he starts out by telling us that, your heart just stops.
“Obviously, anybody in that room would do anything for John. We know he’s going to get through this, and we’ll all get through it together and do anything we can to help him out.”
Farrell, who was diagnosed Monday while undergoing hernia surgery in Detroit, described his lymphoma as “highly curable.” He even intends to return to his position in 2016 after undergoing chemotherapy treatment, which he’s scheduled to begin next week. But the news hit Farrell and the Red Sox hard. Everyone’s health and well-being go well beyond anything that occurs between the lines.
“It’s tough,” said Pedroia, who also saw former teammate and good friend Jon Lester battle cancer in their early days in the organization. “Everything else doesn’t matter. Health is the most important thing, especially if it’s somebody that you’re around every day. It’s your family. I think first reaction is you’re in shock. But the next reaction is, ‘How do we get him better?’ And he’s going to start that process soon.”
The Red Sox have had a ton of problems this season. They entered Friday sitting 14 games under .500 (50-64) and in last place in the American League East. Yet nothing could prepare the club for the news Farrell revealed Friday. Wins and losses suddenly seem so meaningless.
“The everyday grind of our game, you kind of have tunnel vision when it’s going on,” Pedroia said. “When the most important guy says something like that, it definitely takes away everything you’re thinking about and you focus on just him and getting better.
“That’s the one thing that guys were sitting around, we sat around there right after the meeting, just sitting there. You just care. We all care about each other. The voice of your team, the leader of your team says that, it hits you. We’ve got to get him better.”
Farrell cares so much about his players that a lot of strong bonds have been established over the years, even during his days as Boston’s pitching coach. When Farrell sat down to announce the stunning news to reporters before Friday’s game against the Seattle Mariners, Pedroia and David Ortiz — the longest-tenured members of the Red Sox — attended the press conference in support of their manager.
“We love John. We go through a lot together every day. He’s in it with us, the ups and downs, the everything,” Pedroia said. “He’s a guy that just doesn’t deal with what’s going on in the field. He cares about your family, he cares about your kids, things that are going on at home. He’s managing 25 guys’ lives, not just baseball. He’s a pretty important part to each and every one of us’ everything.
“We need him to get better, and he will.”
Farrell, whose son, Luke, once battled cancer while pitching at Northwestern University, understands the importance of family sticking together in the face of adversity. Thus, he’s proud and touched to know his baseball family has his back 100 percent in his battle to return to the dugout.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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