NEW YORK — John Farrell pitched 116 games in the major leagues. He then worked as a college assistant coach before returning to professional baseball as a player development executive, a pitching coach, and then a manager.
Farrell will take on a new role on Friday, that of the villain.
Fans of the Toronto Blue Jays have been angry with Farrell since he left the team in October to return to the Red Sox as manager. Farrell spent two years managing the Blue Jays and jumping to a division rival was viewed as disloyalty.
Now Farrell returns to the Rogers Centre for a three-game series and is sure to hear it from the crowd.
“People are going to have their own opinions and I respect that,” Farrell said on Thursday before the Red Sox faced the Yankees. “I think it goes along with the heightened interest in the Blue Jays and a lot of the changes that they’ve made. There’s a lot of excitement there.
“In this case, with how things unfolded, the unique set of circumstances that surround the change both in Toronto and in Boston, I can fully appreciate that they might have those feelings and what might come out of it, we’ll see starting [Friday]. But we’re looking forward to going up there and looking forward to competing against them.”
Farrell was traded to the Red Sox for shortstop Mike Aviles on Oct. 21 after informing the Blue Jays that he wanted to manage the Red Sox. Since then, the usually cheerful people of Ontario have not been very fond of him.
“Villain or the bad guy, whatever it might be, I can only say we look forward to the challenges that lies ahead of us,” Farrell said.
Toronto is 0-2 under manager John Gibbons after making a series of high-profile additions during the offseason. The Red Sox are 2-0 under Farrell.
"Definitely looking forward to it. They’ve got a good team. We’re looking to compete against them," Farrell said. "I’m sure the excitement that surrounds the Blue Jays because of the changes that they’ve gone through in the offseason, this will be a very good challenge for us.”
The Red Sox will pitch Felix Doubront, John Lackey, and Jon Lester against Josh Johnson, J.A. Happ, and R.A. Dickey.