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John Farrell weathers hard feelings, boos in return to Rogers Centre

04.05.13 at 7:20 pm ET
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TORONTO ‘€“ The hostile reception John Farrell was scheduled to receive at Rogers Centre was slow getting going, but gathered some momentum as Friday night progressed.

There were the expected boos ‘€“ when Farrell was announced, when he came out to hand off the lineup card, and especially when he left the field (tipping his hat to the crowd as the ill-will verbally rained down on the Sox’€™ manager). And once the game between the Sox and Jays began, there was the occasional chant and sign.

But, all in all, the bite promised by those in Canada awaiting Farrell’€™s return offered few surprises. (Other than perhaps the visiting skipper getting booed upon checking on injured player Jose Iglesias in the second inning.)

The Red Sox manager ‘€“ who was traded from the Blue Jays in the offseason after expressing an interest in joining the Sox ‘€“ started his day with a lengthy walk from the team hotel. During the stroll, Farrell said he didn’€™t encounter much animosity at all.

‘€œThat this is a great city and unfortunately some things over the past couple of years didn’€™t play out on the field as we had hoped or planned or intended,’€ said Farrell when asked what kind of message he wanted to pass along to Blue Jays fans. ‘€œBut I will say on my walk in from the hotel, a 45-minute walk, I had a chance to meet up and talk with people on the streets coming in here. You know what, surprisingly a lot of people welcomed me back and to have a couple of casual conversations on the walk in. It was a good way to come to the ballpark.’€

Farrell (who went 154-170 as manager of the Blue Jays) was next greeted by a throng of Toronto media members, awaiting the manager’€™s 5:20 p.m. press conference.

That question and answer lasted approximately 10 minutes, with Farrell not breaking form from the tone he had previously displayed when grilled by the media following the Jays.

‘€œIt this a special event tonight?’€ he greeted the group with.

‘€œIt’€™s good to be back,’€ he added. ‘€œYou know, I fully expected that this would be, as it’€™s been reported by a number of people leading up to this. It’€™s good to be back here in Toronto, for sure.’€

Farrell went on to address the questions regarding his expectations for the series-opener.

‘€œI full respect and can understand the sentiment, the questions, and maybe what might transpire here tonight,’€ he said. ‘€œThat, to me, shows that there’€™s a lot of passion here for baseball and I certainly fully respect all the changes that have gone on this offseason with the Blue Jays. I thoroughly enjoyed my time here. And to work with [Blue Jays general manager] Alex [Anthopolous], to work with [Blue Jays president] Paul Beeston, it was a great opportunity.’€

Farrell called taking the Red Sox job, ‘€œa rare opportunity and a unique set of circumstances.’€ And described the Blue Jays as, ‘€œa darn good team that we’€™re going up against and we’€™ve got our hands full this weekend.’€

As the manager left batting practice and walked into the Red Sox’€™ dugout, one voice shouting, ‘€œLoyalty! Loyalty!’€ dominated the crowd. Farrell looked up into the area where the chant was emanating from, flipped a ball into the stands and went about his way.

‘€œThis game is always about the players,’€ he said. ‘€œWe’€™ve got two good teams going at it tonight in this series and that will hopefully be the case throughout the remainder of the season. With that in mind, the focus is in between the lines.’€

As for if his players had promised to rally around him, Farrell said, “‘€œNo, it’€™s not the reverse Gipper speech. We’€™re fortunate. We’€™ve got a very focused group and their personal routine, the game inside the lines, is the most important thing.”

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