TORONTO -- You've heard of the Spanish Inquisition?
This was the Canadian version -- kindler and gentler overall, with some occasion bite.
John Farrell returned to Toronto Friday for the first time since leaving the Blue Jays in a trade last November and faced a group of about 25 Canadian reporters in a makeshift press conference set up outside the visitor's clubhouse at Rogers Centre.
"It's good to be back in Toronto,'' declared Farrell.
Asked what message he would send to Toronto fans, Farrell said: "That this is a great city and unfortunately, some of the things didn't play out on the field the past couple of years as we had hoped and planned and intended. But I will say that on my walk in from my hotel today, a 45-minute walk, I had a chance to meet up and talk with people on the street coming in here.
"You know what? Surprisingly, a number of people welcomed me back and to have a couple of casual conversations with people on the walk in was a good way to come to the ballpark.''
Farrell said he could "fully respect and understand the (angry) sentiment'' that resulted from his departure.
"That to me shows there's a lot of passion here for baseball,'' said Farrell. (But) this is a unique set of circumstances.''
When a reporter asked Farrell if, in retrospect, he would have done anything differently -- seemingly in reference to the manager's leaving -- Farrell answered it from a baseball perspective.
"That question came up repeatedly throughout the second half of last year,'' said Farrell. "To look back, I can look myself in the mirror and say I gave the Blue Jays organization everything I had on a given day -- to work as diligently and thoroughly as possible to win a game on a given night. And we had to deal with a lot of things along the way.''
Farrell predicted "I'm sure there are going to be some boos,'' and he was proven right -- several times over -- hours later.
The first boos came when the Red Sox lineup was introduced approximately 15 minutes before gametime. The boos were louder still when Farrell elected to take the lineup card to home plate for the exchange with umpires and John Gibbons, his replacement as manager of the Blue Jays.
Finally, Farrell got an earful in the top of the second inning when he came out to attend to shortstop Jose Iglesias, who was plunked in the left forearm on a pitch by Toronto starter Josh Johnson.
"I think that goes back to how much (the fans) care -- and that's a good thing,'' Farrell maintained, "a good thing for the Blue Jays. And they've got a lot to be excited about. This is a darn good team we're going up against.''
When a Toronto reporter asked about Red Sox players offering moral support in anticipation of Friday's game, Farrell cracked that he wasn't expecting "the reverse Gipper speech. We're fortunate that we've got a very focused group..and the game inside the lines is the most important thing. This game is always about the players.''