Francona: Sox will miss John Farrell

BOSTON -- For the second consecutive offseason, Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona will lose a trusted confidant, as pitching coach John Farrell was named the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday afternoon.

Last winter, bench coach Brad Mills was named manager of the Houston Astros, and now Francona will have to manage against Farrell 19 times in the American League East.

"It's one heck of a unique and exciting opportunity," Farrell said at a news conference in Toronto. "Going through this interview process it became very clear the direction that this organization is heading, the resources that are available to support a club that is going to compete and compare with New York and Boston in time. Those were all clear selling points to me."

"[The Blue Jays] just got better," Francona told ESPNBoston.com. "It's a weird one. You'll look over [to the opposing dugout] next year 19 times, and yeah, that's no fun. We want to win so bad and that's never going to go away. But if we win, it's going to be at his expense, and if they win, it's going to be at our expense.

"That's one of the downfalls of this, but the positives outweigh that. He's one of my best friends in the world and he's going to be tremendous at whatever he wants to do."

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein echoed those sentiments in a statement released by the team.

"John made a real impact on our pitching staff and the organization as a whole in his four years here," Epstein said. "His commitment, character, and ability to make genuine connections with people will be missed. We wish John well as he starts what is certain to be a long and successful managerial career."

Farrell is one of the most respected men in baseball and his talents have been coveted by a number of organizations in the past, including the Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners. He turned down opportunities to manage those clubs and stay in Boston.

"He could have already been a manager," Francona said. "His self confidence is probably second to none, and when I say that, I mean we all know he's turned down some opportunities probably for a couple of things: He had enough confidence to want to pick the right situation, and he felt an obligation, and a loyalty, to the [Red Sox] organization, which we appreciate."

Once the Red Sox season ended without a trip to the postseason, Francona knew Farrell was serious about managing.

"He was ready this winter. He wanted to go through the process this winter," Francona said. "Last winter he didn't want to waste anybody's time, or be disrespectful. Once he wanted to do it, it was only a matter of who was going to be lucky enough to have him."

Farrell, 48, became the Red Sox pitching coach prior to the 2007 season and helped mold Boston's starting rotation.

"Sometimes in this game you get lucky. You get the opportunity to stand next to people who are your best friends, and you trust implicitly," Francona said. "I'm probably luckier than most. I've had Millsy, [current bench coach] DeMarlo [Hale] and John Farrell. I've caught some pretty big breaks. Going through the season we go through, there are a lot of ups and downs, but when you go through them with people who you trust implicitly, it makes it a heck of a lot better journey."

So what's next?

Francona spoke with Epstein on Sunday night and again Monday morning. The Red Sox general manager is flying back from Arizona, where he was watching Fall League games. They're getting a list together of people they want to interview to take Farrell's place as pitching coach.

Because Francona is recovering from knee surgery, he said some of those interviews will likely be done over the phone.

"We certainly want to interview internal candidates and we'll probably interview a couple who aren't," Francona said. "But we're not there yet, so we'll probably work on that today and tomorrow."

Francona's coaching staff could still face more changes as Hale, who was also a finalist for the Blue Jays job, is expected to have other managerial interviews this offseason.

"Rather than redoing stuff, we'll wait to see what happens with our staff and then we'll go from there," Francona said. "We don't anticipate any changes, but we may have to make a change or two just because of losing guys, but I don't expect to make any changes."

Farrell was Cleveland's player development director for five years and Boston's pitching coach the past four seasons. He pitched in the majors for parts of eight seasons with Cleveland, California and Detroit. His final season was 1996.

Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox and Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter. Background information from the Associated Press was used in this report.