BOSTON — The Red Sox are in a much better position than they were at this point last season, sitting 1 1/2 games out of first place in the American League East ahead of Wednesday’s game against the New York Yankees.
But this time last year, the team had bigger worries than baseball.
On Aug. 10, 2015, Red Sox manager John Farrell was diagnosed with lymphoma and missed the rest of the season while he underwent chemotherapy. He learned in October that the cancer was in remission and said Wednesday that he’s a changed man because of it.
“Life throws you different challenges and a different set of experiences along the way,” Farrell said before the Red Sox and Yankees squared off. “You know what, it was hell going through, but I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned a lot about the things that, again, life deals people. And you find that you put faith in a lot of people to help you get through some tough moments. I’m honestly very fortunate, and I hold a hell of a lot of gratitude towards the things in daily life right now.”
As for his style as a manager, Farrell says he hasn’t changed anything about the way he operates during games. However, he thinks his battle with cancer has helped him on a more personal level.
“Oh, I think there’d be a lot of people to argue that one,” the skipper joked when asked if his experience made him a better manager. “I’d like to think I’m a better person, even though that maybe not everything works out as you anticipate. But there’s a different perspective on things, I’ll tell you that. That’s very clear. So, as it relates to the game, I think there’s an ability to have conversations with players with a different perspective now than this time a year ago.”
The Red Sox have made a lot of changes since Farrell was diagnosed, too. While he was away, Dave Dombrowski joined the team as the president of baseball operations, Mike Hazen was promoted to general manager and Frank Wren took Hazen’s place as the senior vice president of baseball operations. And Farrell said if the road was simpler for everyone, then it would take away from what they try to do as an organization.
“We’re always being reminded, or you take an assestment of where you are,” Farrell said. “And it hasn’t been easy. We’ve had our own challenges. And I guess the best way I can say this, there’s a real reason why they pop champagne when this is over. Because it isn’t easy. And we’re in the thick of it. That’s what we want to sign up for every year.”
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images