BOSTON — John Farrell is a competitor. It should come as no surprise the Red Sox manager is prepared to enter the fight of his life with passion, confidence and positivity.
Farrell announced before Friday’s game against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park that he’s been diagnosed with Stage 1 lymphoma, which will prevent him from managing the Red Sox for the remainder of the 2015 season. The skipper expressed shock over the news, which he learned Monday while undergoing hernia surgery in Detroit, but he also vowed to combat the cancer head-on with every intention of returning to the dugout in 2016.
“It’s been a surreal four or five days,” said an emotional yet composed Farrell. “I never had one symptom before the notification of it — no fatigue, no night sweats, no loss of weight, obviously, no lack of appetite. None of the things that are commonly asked when facing something like this.
“It’s been a shocker, but I take a step back and I’m extremely, extremely fortunate to be able to have caught this at this stage. The mass was removed at the time of the hernia surgery, so there’s no additional surgery needed. Chemo will start early next week.”
Farrell described his lymphoma as “highly curable” while also pointing to Boston’s world class medical facilities as a reason to be optimistic about his treatment and recovery. The diagnosis clearly hit Farrell hard, though. And he wasn’t alone in his disbelief.
“I think any time the word ‘cancer’ comes up, it kind of stops you in your tracks. And it certainly did me, when I was informed,” Farrell said when asked how his team took the stunning news. “I’m sure that there was some disbelief, as I experienced myself. But again, there’s going to be a good outcome to this, and I appreciate their positivity and their thoughts regarding it.”
David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia were among those who attended Farrell’s pregame press conference, which the manager began with his shocking announcement. Farrell kept his composure for much of the session — he even cracked a few jokes to lighten the mood — but couldn’t help but break down when asked about the support he’s already received from Red Sox players.
“You give back to the players that are going at it now,” Farrell said, apologizing midsentence as tears began to well up in his eyes. “In a way, you live vicariously through their careers. Yours is over, you try to help when you can with them. And when they show that support, it’s meaningful.”
Bench coach Torey Lovullo will manage the Red Sox for the remainder of the season. General manager Ben Cherington, who returned to Boston after receiving a phone call from Farrell during a stopover on a flight to Greenville to see one of the Red Sox’s Class-A affiliates, didn’t rule out adding to the coaching staff at some point in the coming days to ensure there’s enough man power in tow.
But Farrell, who expects to undergo nine weeks of chemotherapy treatment beginning next Tuesday, doesn’t view this scenario as being the end of his managing days. While he’s stepping away for now to concentrate on his treatment and recovery, he’s already looking forward to rejoining the team.
“I hope I’m back. The passion for the job (still is there). I’ll be honest with you, the thing that’s going to suck is not being around in this capacity,” Farrell said. “But I know that there are other ways I can stay actively involved and that’ll be a really needed — not a good, but a really needed — diversion going through this. Every intent to be back (next season).”
The Red Sox’s struggles over the last two seasons haven’t curbed Farrell’s enthusiasm one bit. Don’t expect lymphoma to extinguish his competitive fire, either.
Farrell is a fighter, regardless of the opponent.
Thumbnail photo via Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports Images
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