BOSTON (AP) - John Farrell had a tough choice: stay in Cleveland's front office or get back into a baseball uniform as Boston's pitching coach this year.
He had pitched for the Indians for four seasons. He was their director of player development for six. He even lives in a Cleveland suburb.
He picked the Red Sox.
Then he helped guide their staff to the best ERA in the AL (3.87) and into Saturday's sixth game of the championship series against his former team.
``It was not an easy decision,'' Farrell said. ``The two situations in front of me were extremely rare and ones that aren't taken lightly.''
Either way, he would have been with a team that made it to the ALCS. But the Red Sox got the call for two primary reasons - manager Terry Francona and an on-field job that would ``allow a competitive fire to come out within me on a nightly basis.''
That's not to say he has trouble keeping his cool. Articulate, almost professorial, he was seen as a coach who could be an excellent teacher for young pitchers and a good listener and adviser to the older ones.
Curt Schilling, the 40-year-old starter in Game 6, raved about Farrell after pitching seven shutout innings in Boston's clinching win of the AL division series against the Los Angeles Angels on Oct. 7.
``It's been an incredibly arduous and long road and a process that's had its peaks and valleys,'' Schilling said, ``but John has stuck with me and worked as hard as I've ever had a pitching coach work to get me to where I need to be.''
Schilling made the transformation from power pitcher to one who relies on off-speed pitches since being on the disabled list from June 19 to Aug. 6 with tendinitis in his right shoulder.
One of the top pitchers who moved through the Indians system was Game 6 starter Fausto Carmona, who signed in 2000, one year before Farrell joined the club as director of player development. Relievers Jensen Lewis and Tom Mastny also developed during his tenure.
His knowledge of Cleveland's pitchers, though, may not have helped individual Red Sox hitters.
``We rely heavily on our scouting reports of recent games seen,'' Farrell said. ``There's some personal familiarity but that would be almost anecdotal information.''
But if a player asks, he'll tell them what he knows.
``He was available to us, but some hitters don't like that,'' Boston's Mike Lowell said. ``I think the guys that went out and asked him about the Cleveland pitchers, he definitely did a good job.
``He's got his hands full worrying about our pitchers.''
The Indians knew how valuable Farrell was. But they already had a pitching coach, Carl Willis, now in his fifth season with them. The Red Sox needed one after letting Dave Wallace go.
Farrell talked a lot with general managers Theo Epstein of Boston and Mark Shapiro of Cleveland.
He wasn't running away from a job he liked. He was running to one he preferred.
``He was part of the process here, a big part,'' Shapiro said. ``A front office has to rebuild, just like the playing roster. You lose guys. We've lost some and are going to lose some more.
``John went to the Red Sox and Mike Hazen left us to go to Boston, where he's their player personnel man,'' Shapiro said. ``We lost both Mike and John in the space of six months, but we had Ross Atkins prepared'' to take over as director of player development.
Soon, the Red Sox might be forced to seek a replacement for the 45-year-old Farrell, a possible replacement in Pittsburgh for fired manager Jim Tracy. Former Cleveland assistant general manager and scout Neal Huntington became the Pirates GM late in September.
Huntington said he wants an energetic manager who communicates well and ``wants to return the pride to the Pittsburgh Pirates.''
Farrell might be an excellent fit, and Francona understands.
``He came in today and I didn't even want to talk about it, what we're going to do tonight,'' Francona said before Game 6. ``Seemed like we were sharing secrets.
``This guy's a star because of what he does and how he does it. You're always going to hear his name.''
So Farrell may have another tough decision to make.
``This is, to me, arguably the best on-field environment in the game,'' he said of Boston. ``That's not to say I was looking forward to leaving Cleveland.''

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