Toronto manager (and former Red Sox pitching coach) John Farrell, whom the Red Sox wanted to hire after  parting ways with Terry Francona last offseason -- even pursuing him after the Blue Jays changed their team policy to prevent lateral moves -- tried to downplay speculation that the Red Sox will make a run at hiring him this offseason to replace manager Bobby Valentine.
"There's a lot of speculation, obviously, but as I said last week in Toronto, I'm the manager of the Blue Jays. This is where my focus and commitment is. I'm under contract. That's obvious. If I wasn't, I wouldn't be sitting here today," Farrell said from the visitor's dugout at Fenway Park before his team's game against the Red Sox. At the same time, we've dealt with a lot of challenges ourselves. I can understand the natural connection, because I've worked here in the past, but my focus is clearly with the Blue Jays."
While the Red Sox are 63-75, Farrell's Blue Jays are enduring their own poor performance. Toronto is 61-75 this season, in last place in the American League East -- one game behind the Red Sox. Farrell suggested he could identify with Valentine as a fellow manager.
"I don't look at other situations, because my focus is here. We've got a lot of challenges ourselves with getting guys back on the field. I'll say this -- knowing what the Red Sox have gone through, with the amount of players they've lost to injury, I can empathize with Bobby and having to deal with a lot of changes to the roster," said Farrell. "And because of that change, you're always trying to filter in new guys and get an understanding of what their capabilities are and how you can best utilize them to win a ballgame."
Asked if he would like assurances from the Blue Jays that they wanted him to manage beyond next season, Farrell suggested that he was not consumed by such a consideration.
"You're putting the cart way before the horse with that. My contract is through 2013. My approach day in and day out doesn't hinge upon my status. My focus and attention is today, right here," said Farrell.
Farrell was asked -- based on his four years of experience in the Red Sox dugout while serving as pitching coach from 2007-10 -- if Boston was a tough market in which to manager. While he downplayed his own personal view of the situation, he offered praise for his former boss, Francona.
"I wouldn't know [if it's difficult to manage the Red Sox. I've never managed in Boston. I've only managed in one place, and that's right here in Toronto. Having worked in Boston, sure, there's a tremendous fan base that's very passionate, the expectations are very high, but as a competitor, that's what you aspire to do and be involved in," he said. "Having been in that dugout for four years, you do get the opportunity and the privilege to see it firsthand. [Francona] was a very successful manager, balanced a lot of different things both inside and out, he did a very good job. The history and the record speaks to that.
"Through it all, through the ups and downs along the way, the one thing Tito always talked about was be true to yourself. As long as you can look yourself in the mirror and know that you did what you felt was the right thing to do, and that being the players come first, as long as you keep the players first in your decision-making and your thoughts toward them individually, you're probably guided in the right direction to the right thing."
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