John Farrell likely to be named Blue Jays’ next manager

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Peter Gammons, now working for the MLB Network, MLB.com and NESN, heard from three MLB general managers Thursday that Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell is going to be named the Blue Jays’ next skipper.

Legendary Toronto manager Cito Gaston stepped down at the end of the 2010 season and the Jays went on an extensive search for his replacement.

A variety of candidates were interviewed, including Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale, Indians first base coach Sandy Alomar Jr., Yankees third base coach Rob Thomson, Rays bench coach Dave Martinez and the Blue Jays’ own third base coach Brian Butterfield.  ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine was even linked to the opening for a time.

So why Farrell?

Well, he’s been a member of Boston’s coaching staff since 2006 and was the Indians’ Director of Player Development when Cleveland was named “Organization of the Year” by Baseball America in 2003 and 2004.  The experience is there, especially in the ever-tough American League East, and Farrell has been a part of winning clubs for most of his non-playing career.  The Blue Jays will never have the kind of payroll that Farrell worked with in Boston, but Toronto does have several young aces-in-the-making.

An official announcement should come sometime before or after the World Series.

Watch: Shohei Ohtani strikes out his first spring training batter

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Sure, spring training games don’t count toward anything “real,” but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy Angels’ star pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani mowing down his first big league competitors.

On Saturday, Ohtani took the mound against the Brewers for his first official outing in an Angels uniform. After allowing a leadoff double to Jonathan Villar, the 23-year-old righty settled down and issued a three-pitch strikeout to Nate Orf, his first of the spring.

It wasn’t the cleanest inning for the right-hander: the Brewers plated their first run on a walk, wild pitch and subsequent throwing error by catcher Martin Maldonado. Ohtani didn’t let things unravel further, however, and induced a pop-up for the second out before catching Brett Phillips looking on a called strike three to end the inning.

While the two-way phenom only lasted another two batters (a Keon Broxton dinger finished him off in the second), he’s already started to look like a formidable presence on the mound. Time will tell whether he can deliver at the plate as well — rumor has it he could feature in the Angels’ lineup as soon as Monday.