NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- John Farrell maintains he was always open and honest with the Blue Jays' front office about his desire to one day return to Boston.
Farrell said that he kept an open dialogue whenever the possibility of joining the Red Sox was brought up by Toronto's brass.
"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," Farrell said on Day 2 of the Winter Meetings on Tuesday. "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."
Reports linking Farrell to Boston began to surface less than one year after he officially signed on with the Blue Jays. At the time, there was plenty of talk that Farrell had been considered the No. 1 candidate to replace Terry Francona in the dugout.
When the rumors continued to persist throughout the course of a week, Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos firmly stated that Farrell was the manager of the Blue Jays and would not be going anywhere.
Anthopoulos even altered a club policy to prohibit employees from departing for another organization unless it involved a promotion. The goal was to put an end to the Farrell rumors once and for all, but the reports resurfaced the following season after Bobby Valentine came under fire in Boston.
The constant speculation led some people in the media to accuse Boston of tampering while Farrell was still in a Blue Jays uniform. That's something Farrell appeared to attempt to distance himself from on Tuesday.
"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," Farrell said of the reports. "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."
Both sides have now moved on, but not before several Blue Jays players issued some parting shots on Farrell's way out the door. Ricky Romero was understanding, but he admitted to being disappointed, while Adam Lind suggested that Farrell's heart was never really in Toronto.
Lind also added that Farrell seemed to have more motivation and energy during his return trips to Fenway Park. Toronto's designated hitter felt the next hire had to be someone who wanted to be a Blue Jay and not just an employee of the Blue Jays. Toronto hired former skipper John Gibbons to return to the helm.
Farrell patiently answered questions from both Toronto and Boston reporters on Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, but it was the accusation about a lack of work ethic in Toronto that appeared to bother him the most.
"That I can tell you emphatically that my focus and attention was there every day," Farrell said. "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 percent focused on the Blue Jays."
All of this back and forth between the two sides should make for an interesting rivalry next season. Boston is set to visit Rogers Centre from April 5-7, and there's already talk that at least one of those games will eventually sell out.
It should be an electric atmosphere created by a fan base which felt betrayed by Farrell's request to leave. That topic of conversation is also what brought an end to Farrell's media availability on Tuesday. A reporter attempted to ask about that first series of the year, but was abruptly cut off.
"Looking forward to it," Farrell said.
Whether he actually is or not remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: Blue Jays fans will be.
Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB.