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No lingering animosity between Farrell, Blue Jays

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The answers were eerily similar, but the scene was barely recognizable when John Farrell faced a series of questions from the Toronto media on Monday afternoon.

While with the Blue Jays, Farrell spent the better part of a year dismissing rumors that he was interested in returning to a Red Sox organization where he spent four years as a pitching coach.

The speculation began in the fall of 2011 and didn't end until he officially joined Boston in October of the following year. Throughout the buildup, Farrell always made a point of saying his focus was solely on the Blue Jays.

The third-year manager might have been wearing a new uniform and in charge of an entirely new roster, but the answers remain the same a year later. This time, though, it's in reference to another team.

"I'm a baseball person, so I don't know if my life has changed completely," Farrell said when asked if he's more content in Boston. "My focus and attention is clearly here. As I've stated many times over, my complete commitment and being engaged in our team goals and the players of last year, I've stated that many times over.

"That's the same approach I take here and now, and that's getting the Red Sox ready to start the season."

Farrell faced most of these questions before, but Monday marked the first time he was on the field against his former players. Both Farrell and the Blue Jays insist there isn't any lingering animosity over the offseason developments, but prior to their Grapefruit League season matchup at Florida Auto Exchange, there appeared to be very limited interaction between the two sides.

It was a stark contrast from the welcoming received by Brian Butterfield. Toronto's former third-base coach who joined Farrell in Boston was greeted warmly by his former colleagues, as multiple players came up to shake hands and share a few laughs.

Farrell tried to give the appearance that this was just any other spring game. He's loath to publicly admit anything to the contrary, but Butterfield believes that the upcoming return visit to Toronto from April 5-7 will create at least a little bit of nervousness.

"Oh sure, even today, it feels a little bit different," Butterfield admitted. "We bused in the other side, we're in the visitors' clubhouse. John's cool about it, but I think that there's going to be some butterflies early in the season when we start in New York, and I think it will be heightened a little bit when we get to Toronto."

One of the only new developments from Monday's scrum with Farrell came when he was asked for his take on the recent comments made by Adam Lind. Toronto's designated hitter went on record to say that last year he received conflicting advice from Farrell and hitting coach Dwayne Murphy.

Farrell reportedly wanted to see a more patient approach from Lind while Murphy preferred a more aggressive attack. During his interview, Lind referred to Farrell as a former pitcher and the insinuation was someone who never hit was meddling in affairs he didn't know much about.

That assertion was disputed the following day by general manager Alex Anthopoulos, and Farrell addressed the issue for the first time on Monday, but he did his best to sidestep the question.

"We worked every day to bring the best out of every player," Farrell said. "So unfortunately a lot of things didn't work out as we had hoped. I respect every player's opinions and every player's thoughts. My attention is here and now."

The tone of Monday's scrum seemed far less hostile than the one Farrell was put through during the Winter Meetings, but it did take one bizarre turn about midway through the interview.

Farrell was asked if he had second thoughts about going to Boston following the Blue Jays' eventful offseason which saw the likes of Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Melky Cabrera, Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey join the club.

Instead of brushing aside the question, Farrell responded that he wasn't the one responsible for last year's departure. It's a stance that likely will earn himself even more enemies from an already angry fanbase.

"If memory serves me correct, I was traded," said Farrell, who never would have been dealt without his permission or some type of request to leave the organization. "Again, these questions were raised during the Winter Meetings, and I spent quite a bit of time talking about it at that time. To go back right now, my focus is on what the Red Sox need to do for this season."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB.

Toronto Blue Jays