Boston pitching coach's imprint all over Cleveland

Art Davidson

Before a late-season game last year, Fausto Carmona was taken aside by then-Indians director of player development John Farrell. Farrell believed Carmona's problems weren't being caused by a lack of ability, but rather by how he was throwing the ball.

"His delivery needed some adjusting," Farrell said. "The adjustments we made made it easier for him to throw on a line, which helped him use both sides of the plate. His velocity has always been good. He needed to improve the location of his pitches."

Carmona developed into one of the game's premier pitchers this year. The right-hander started against Farrell's current team last night in the sixth game of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park.

In his first season as the Red Sox pitching coach, Farrell has made a significant impact. Josh Beckett blossomed into the best pitcher in the American League this season in part because he paid attention to what Farrell stressed during spring training. Last year, Beckett was often too stubborn. He frequently tried to overpower hitters, which led to mistakes.

Beckett is varying his pitches much more this year and utilizing the entire plate. His curveball has become as potent as his 96 mph fastball.

"I think that John Farrell has had a tremendous impact on all our pitchers," said Boston manager Terry Francona. "One of his strong points is that he deals with each pitcher individually. An approach that might work for one pitcher might not work for someone else. For instance, Beckett, (Curt) Schilling, Daisuke (Matsuzaka) and Wake (Tim Wakefield) are all in our starting rotation, but they are all very different pitchers. John has helped each one."

After the Red Sox made the rather surprising decision not to bring back Dave Wallace as their pitching coach this year, Francona made the suggestion that the club attempt to hire his former Cleveland teammate, even though Farrell had spent five years out of uniform in the Indians' front office. Wallace served as Houston's pitching coach this season.

"It was tough because Wally had become one of my closest friends," Francona said. "Once that decision was made I thought that John would be perfect for the job. He's extremely knowledgeable about pitching, very bright and thought he could handle everything that comes with being in Boston."

Before joining the Indians in 2001, Farrell served as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at his alma mater, Oklahoma State. The 45-year-old Farrell might eventually return to wearing a tie. Being a major league general manager appeals to him, but he welcomed the opportunity to put back on a uniform and join Francona in the dugout.

During his eight-year major league career, Farrell was a mundane 36-46 for the Indians, Angels and Tigers. Farrell believes he was overused both in college and early in his big league career, which led to injuries.

Because of his own experiences, Farrell is very cautious how much the young pitchers are used, something evidenced by how the club has used Jonathan Papelbon, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz this season.

"It's something we monitor very closely," Farrell said. "I think a lot of

people don't realize just how much strain a pitcher puts on his arm when he pitches."

Farrell would be rooting for the Indians if they were playing any other team in the ALCS. Twenty-two members of Cleveland's 40-man roster began their pro careers in the Indians' minor league system during Farrell's tenure as director of player development.

"I like seeing those guys doing well," Farrell said with a smile. "But I'd

rather they do well in 2008."

Could Farrell's tenure with the Red Sox last just one year? According to reports, the Yankees are interested in interviewing him for their vacant managerial position, but Don Mattingly and Joe Girardi would appear to be the leading candidates to replace Joe Torre.

-- MetroWest Daily News