Boston Red Sox and former Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell met with the baseball media Tuesday afternoon at the winter meetings in Nashville.
Following a complicated split from the Blue Jays last month, a number of questions during the scrum were related to Farrell’s exit and the subsequent reaction in Toronto amongst fans and players.
Here’s some of what Farrell had to say…
Question: John, what do you think of what Alex has managed to do with your former team? Had those moves been made before you left, would you have maybe had more second thoughts about getting a chance to manage that team?
JOHN FARRELL: Well, first of all, they’ve improved themselves overnight with a trade. We’ve got the utmost respect for them. We’ve got work to do to compete with them. But as it relates to leaving or not, I was asked on two different occasions if the Boston situation were to arise, did I have interest? And both times I said yes. That precipitated the move.
So it wasn’t about me orchestrating some departure out of Toronto, which I take from it a lot of great experiences, a lot of great memories. It was a great city, good fans. They’re a very good team.
Question: You completely understand that there is going to be backlash from a lot of fans, a lot of people back in Toronto thinking just the way it ended with you?
JOHN FARRELL: I think that’s the nature of the game. That’s the nature of sports. When certain changes take place, I think that’s also a strong indication of the passion that’s there. Again, it was a great experience. The changes precipitated, or came about, with what I just described.
Question: John, hate to go back, but this will be the last one I ask. At any time when you expressed to Alex, did he ever try to talk you into staying or force your hand, saying, you’re under contract. You need to stay. Or right from the get go, was he pretty much open to allowing you to pursue what you said your dream job was?
JOHN FARRELL: Again, I think every job in the major leagues is a dream job. It’s not exclusive of one place. These are rare opportunities. My conversations with Alex are private, and I have the utmost respect for Alex and the entire Blue Jays organization. I’m thankful for the opportunity that was provided.
Question: When you started seeing the Red Sox were interested, you were their number one guy in August and September, did you try and verify that? Did it affect the way you managed down the stretch?
JOHN FARRELL: Did I try to verify that?
Question: Well, it was just in newspaper headlines at the time that you were the number one guy.
JOHN FARRELL: And at the time my response, which was all I knew how to say, was that my focus and attention was clearly with the Blue Jays at the time. So there was really no way for me to verify it. That was where my commitment was.
So with that being said, my focus being with the Blue Jays, my total concentration was on the best effort that I could provide on a given day to put together a game plan to win on that night.
Question: You left Toronto this year. 17 men on the DL, a team beset with injuries. As soon as you leave town, they are not only healthy, but they retool and become a force in the division overnight. It must have come into your mind you do this now after I left? Did those thoughts come in at all?
JOHN FARRELL: There’s no predicting the timing of anything. They made one heck of a trade. Alex has been aggressive. They’ve improved themselves with the number of players acquired. But as I said to an earlier question, the decision to leave I was asked on two occasions, would I have interest if this opportunity in Boston arose. At that point, I said yes. And they felt the decision was probably the right one to make to trade me.
Question: And to Blue Jays fans, you know, if it was going the other way, Red Sox fans would resent a manager going to another division rival. To the Blue Jays fans who thought you were part of a young team on the rise, growing the organization organically who could feel frustrated you left, to them, you’d say what?
JOHN FARRELL: They’re very good fans. It’s a great baseball city. If any comments neglected there neglected that appreciation, that was never intended, and I’m thankful for two years of great experience and opportunity that Paul and Alex and the Blue Jays have provided.
So it shows that they’re passionate and they’ve got a darn good team.
Question: John, did you think the Blue Jays had the capacity to take their payroll where they did? If you thought that before, were you disappointed it didn’t happen a little bit earlier while you were still there?
JOHN FARRELL: Once again, I don’t know that you can ever predict the timing for anything. It was mentioned that that payroll resource was available. It was quickly fast forward. So if there was an initial reaction to this, the reaction is a little bit of surprise only because those young players were so highly valued, so highly discussed. But they felt like the timing was right.
Question: John, have you had conversations with your former players on the way out? What kind of things did you hear from them about your trade and the exit, how things finished off?
JOHN FARRELL: I talked to a number of guys, whether it was directly over the phone or through text, and from both sides, it was appreciative of the experience that we shared for the two years.
Question: John, one more from the Toronto side. There have been comments the last couple of weeks from a couple of players that they didn’t feel towards the end that you were invested. There was one who said, rather someone who is a Blue Jay rather than just works for the Blue Jays. What’s your reaction to that stuff?
JOHN FARRELL: That I can tell you emphatically that my focus and attention was there every day. And we dealt with a number of changes along the way, and I don’t think anything that I demonstrated through my actions was anything less than 100% focused on the Blue Jays.
Question: You have the second series of the year in Toronto. What kind of reception…
JOHN FARRELL: Looking forward to it.
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