Manny Machado‘s rough slide in 2017 didn’t just effectively end Dustin Pedroia‘s career. According to a new book, it also marked the beginning of the end for John Farrell as Red Sox manager when it led to a shouting match with president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.
The scene is laid out in “Homegrown: How the Red Sox Built a Champion from the Ground Up,” by Boston Globe baseball writer Alex Speier. It details the tense confrontation between Farrell and Dombrowski after the Red Sox failed to exact retribution against Machado for his April slide that had left Pedroia injured.
It happened following a 5-2 loss to the Orioles on May 1, 2017. That’s the night Baltimore outfielder Adam Jones heard epithets from the center field bleachers, igniting a national outcry over racial tolerance in Boston.
Matt Barnes had already thrown a pitch behind Machado’s head in the series, which led to Dylan Bundy drilling Mookie Betts in what the Red Sox considered retaliation. An irate Dombrowski confronted Farrell in his office after the game.
From the book:
“The two got into a shouting match related to that night’s game, particularly the team’s handling of retribution, and whether the Red Sox needed to settle the score by hitting Machado with a pitch after their best player, Betts, had been drummed. The confrontation became sufficiently intense that Farrell essentially challenged Dombrowski: if the president of baseball operations took such issue with how the club was being run, then he should fire him.”
The exchange was loud enough to be audible in the clubhouse, and some players crept closer to better hear the blowup. By the end of it, Farrell knew he was on borrowed time. He and Dombrowski later conducted a more civil discussion, Farrell told Speier, “and that’s when we kind of really recognized that maybe things didn’t align.”
“At the end of the exchange, the manager had a new view of his job. If there was any doubt that he wasn’t Dombrowski’s guy, by the end of the conversation, it was gone.”
Players noticed their strained relationship and the impact it had on Farrell’s clubhouse standing. “Trouble, trouble, trouble,” Xander Bogaerts said of the dynamic in the book. “It definitely ain’t good.”
Farrell was fired after the 2017 season, paving the way for the hiring of Alex Cora, who won the World Series in 2018.
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