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John Farrell on leaving Blue Jays: ‘I’ll be forever indebted to the Toronto Blue Jays’

10.23.12 at 4:00 pm ET


There are two sides to every story. With John Farrell, there are the people in Boston who are grateful to have him back where he helped build a pitching staff that dominated in the late 2000s and produced a World Series champion in 2007.

In Toronto, he is looked at as the man who left the Blue Jays at moment’s notice, never giving full allegiance to a franchise that gave him his first big league managerial experience.

Blue Jays president Paul Beeston and general manager Alex Anthopoulos agreed over the weekend to trade John Farrell and pitcher David Carpenter to the the Red Sox in exchange for Mike Aviles.

On Tuesday, during his introductory news conference as the 46th manager in Red Sox history, there were several reporters from Toronto who made the trip south to ask him how and why he left the Blue Jays after two non-winning seasons, which included an 89-loss campaign in 2012.

“It’s with a lot of thanks and great gratitude to the Toronto Blue Jays, to Paul, to Alex, the opportunity they provided in the two years spent there was invaluable experience. Things might not have always worked out the way we intended but there were a lot of firsts that I was able to experience there, and I’ll be forever be indebted to the Toronto Blue Jays.

“I can honestly tell you it’s allowed me to be that much more prepared standing here than maybe [was] the case two years ago so for that, guys in Toronto, if you’re listening, I appreciate it very much.”

But that wasn’t good enough to appease the media from north of the border. Farrell was asked how he felt about leaving an organization and city that feels betrayed by his departure and suggestions that his heart was never in Toronto.

“The reaction to the anger or the feelings that might emanate from this happening, I appreciate that. That means there’s passion, there’s caring from the fan base. But I would take exception with the thought that there was no intent to fulfill a contract. This situation, coming to Boston, came about a year ago after having spent one year in Toronto. The request was denied.

“In my conversations with Paul and Alex, I expressed to them at that time that yes, this [Boston] is a place I cut my teeth as a major league coach. We experience a lot of success, had a lot of strong relationships that still exist and they knew where I [stood]. I was very candid and honest with them. And when it came up again this year, on the heels of two very extensive conversations, two very extensive days of conversations in a year-end review, I expressed the same interest again. And fortunately, all parties were able to work out this trade.”

That wasn’t good enough for the Toronto and Canadian media. Farrell was reminded that, in early September, when this subject again began to crop up in rumors, he told reporters that he was “committed unequivocally” to the Blue Jays.

“I made that statement and I stand by it. In our year-end conversations, when I spoke with Alex, towards the end of those two days of discussions, he asked if Boston calls, because it was speculated so much, where do you stand on it? And I said at the time, ‘I would be interested in speaking to them. If you would approve it, I would be glad to speak to them.’ And that’s how it evolved. And then for 10 days following that, I was iced out, did not have any communication, and obviously, that was when these [trade] talks were going on to come to Boston.”

What lessons did he learn in Toronto that he will apply in Boston?

“I think there were times I could’ve – and this comes from those experiences in Toronto – in my relationship with Alex and the conversations we would have regarding the roster, I think there might have been opportunities to speak more passionately towards some suggestions or recommendations to the roster. We also introduced and brought in a number of younger players and we created a diverse offense that was aggressive. Some of that was overboard and some of that we ran into some outs. Creating that environment, that approach, and then putting young players into it, there were probably opportunities where I should’ve shut them down, as far as Xs and Os of the game and maybe I would’ve changed closers a little bit quicker.”

Read More: alex anthopoulos, Boston Red Sox, John Farrell, MLB
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