NEW YORK -- John Farrell returns to Toronto Friday for the first time since leaving the Blue Jays last November to become manager of the Red Sox.
Farrell managed two years with Toronto before the Red Sox approached the Blue Jays last fall and worked out a trade to free him from the final year of his contract.
"I'm definitely looking forward to it," said Farrell. "They've got a good team. I'm looking forward to competing against them. I'm sure the excitement that surrounds the Blue Jays because of the changes that they've gone through in the offseason, this will be a very good challenge for us."
It's likely that Farrell gets a less-than-warm reception for leaving town with a year to go, and electing to manage a rival club in the division. But Farrell said he can't change that.
"People are going to have their own opinions," said Farrell, "and I respect that. I think it goes along with the heightened interest in the Blue Jays and a lot of the changes that they've made. There's a lot of excitement there.
"In this case, with how things unfolded, the unique set of circumstances that surround the change both in Toronto and here in Boston. I can fully appreciate they might have those feelings and what might come out of it. We'll see, starting (Friday)."
Asked if he had been considered a "villain" before, Farrell chuckled and said: "I guess you can say starting tomorrow. Villain, bad guy, whatever it might be. Like I said, I can only say that we look forward to the challenges that lies ahead of us."