NEW YORK — John Farrell pitched 116 games in the major leagues. He then worked as a college assistant coach before returning to professional baseball as a player development executive, a pitching coach, and then manager.
Farrell will take on a new role on Friday, that of villain.
Fans of the Blue Jays have been angry with Farrell since he left the team in October to return to the Red Sox as manager. Farrell spent two years managing the Blue Jays and jumping to a division rival was viewed as disloyal.
Now Farrell returns to Rogers Centre for a three-game series and is sure to hear it from the crowd there.
“People are going to have their own opinions and I respect that,” Farrell said Thursday. “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 in Boston, I can fully appreciate that they might have those feelings and what might come out of it, we’ll see starting [Friday]. But we’re looking forward to going up there and looking forward to competing against them.”
Farrell was traded to the Red Sox for shortstop Mike Aviles on Oct. 21 after informing the Blue Jays that he wanted to manage in Boston. Since then, the usually cheerful people of Ontario have not been very fond of him.
Farrell got tough questions from Toronto reporters when he was introduced in Boston and again at the winter meetings and during spring training. He’s as unpopular in Toronto as Bobby Valentine is in Boston.
“Villain or the bad guy, whatever it might be, I can only say we look forward to the challenges that lies ahead of us,” Farrell said.
Butterfield is back
On the other hand, Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield will probably get some cheers in Toronto. He spent 11 years in the Blue Jays organization as a third base coach and bench coach.
Butterfield was passed up twice to become manager of the Jays, but says he has no ill feelings.
“I have nothing but great memories,” Butterfield said. “I hadn’t thought about going back. But it’ll be fun.’’
The hyperorganized Butterfield is much more than a third base coach for the Sox. He is the infield instructor and directs how the team shifts its defense for certain hitters. He also spent much of spring training working on base running with the players.
“I’m involved with these guys and I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie and enjoyed what I’m doing,’’ he said.
Bench coach Torey Lovullo and bullpen catcher Brian Abraham also came with Farrell from Toronto.
A Maine attraction
Stephen Drew started at shortstop for Double A Portland and played five innings in the first of what the Sox are planning on being a four-game rehabilitation assignment.
Drew suffered a concussion March 7. He drove in a run with a groundout in his first at-bats. He then lined to shortstop and struck out.
The Sox are hopeful that Drew will rejoin the team for the home opener on Monday.
Ortiz on the run
David Ortiz was not at Yankee Stadium for the game Thursday. He returned to Fort Myers, Fla., and is expected to go through base running drills Friday. He remains scheduled for an extended spring training game Monday . . . Lefthanded reliever Franklin Morales threw a 25-pitch live batting practice Wednesday in Fort Myers. He is coming back from a strained lower back . . . Lefthanded reliever Craig Breslow (shoulder) is throwing in the bullpen in Florida. His rehabilitation assignment is not yet scheduled.
The mayor visits
For the final time as Boston’s mayor, Thomas M. Menino, will visit Fenway Park on Friday to view improvements made during the offseason and taste new menu offerings. The event has been an annual one for Menino . . . Rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. wanted to get his hair braided before the game and could not find a spot near the team’s midtown hotel. He turned to his smartphone and the Yelp application and found a shop in Harlem. He then hit T.G.I. Friday’s for lunch. “Next time I’m back here I’ll find out a closer spot to where we stay,” Bradley said. “But it has been fun going around the city.” . . . Mariano Rivera has played in parts of 19 seasons for the Yankees, a franchise record he will share with Derek Jeter once the shortstop returns from the disabled list. Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle held the old record of 18 seasons . . . The Sox have yet to hit a home run. They last started the season with three homerless games in 1993, when they went five games before hitting one.Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.