Farrell delivers inspirational speech

Before hitting field, Red Sox manager stresses teamwork

Farrell delivers inspirational speech

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Prior to the first full-squad workout of Spring Training, Red Sox manager John Farrell gathered his team together and reminded them of the importance of having each other's backs and also putting the group ahead of individual agendas.

The meeting -- which includes ownership, front office, players and other staff -- has become an annual tradition for the Red Sox.

"It was different this year," said owner John Henry. "John [Farrell] led the meeting. It was great. He had the right message, I think, to this team, and I'm looking forward to him being back."

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Farrell missed the final six weeks of the 2015 season after being diagnosed with lymphoma.

"I thanked them for really helping me through my own treatment. The point I tried to make is that they come into contact with so many people because of the position they're in, the people they are as players," said Farrell. "The impact and effect that they can have for maybe providing a distraction, whether it's a young person, an elderly person dealing with something individually, they have a way of maybe providing an escape for them.

"I didn't want them to not understand how far-reaching that is."

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From there, Farrell emphasized the importance of playing as a team.

"We mentioned the other day here that everyone in our clubhouse has got something that they're dealing with, that they're working through individually, and how we can set that aside to meld as a team, to come together as a team, that's what's going to set a very talented group apart from the rest of the pack -- how cohesive we become as a team," said Farrell.

Farrell felt that the perspective he gained from his health struggles last year helped in his opening message to the team.

"We're going to come across struggles that we're all going to have to contend with and deal with. If there's a way we can keep that in perspective, it might not allow some of the smaller things to become insurmountable or to become that much of a greater distraction," said Farrell. "What we do internally and how cohesive we remain, having one another's back, protecting one another, that's the core and the center of us and I think one of the main ingredients to becoming a very tight-knit team."

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It was a message the players took to heart.

"I loved it," said catcher Blake Swihart. "He understood that we have his back. He has our back. As a team, it's just about going out there and having each other's backs, and that's a good start."

Wednesday marked the first step in what the Red Sox hope will be a rewarding season.

"It's when you start getting the chemistry going, working together," said Swihart. "I don't think there was one muffed play during the bunting drills that we did. It's all the hard work everyone put in over the offseason, and everyone was on point."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.