Jays’ Farrell in Boston as centre of attention

Speculation on future of Toronto manager takes the stage against Red Sox

Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell needed his day off on Thursday, before his team begins a three-game weekend series with the Boston Red Sox.

He will surely field even more questions from Boston and Toronto media alike on his commitment to the Toronto organization, and whether or not he’d return to New England as a replacement for Bobby Valentine.

The topic is nothing new, but a renewed interest in Farrell becoming a part of the Red Sox future sparked on Monday when ESPN’s Buster Olney spoke with ESPN Radio.

“The Red Sox actually thought they were going to get (John Farrell) last fall. They got very close, but the Blue Jays pulled back,” said Olney, in his analysis.

As Valentine fuels criticism of his methods in management, and his tact with those around him, the rumours run rampant that he’ll be replaced, and that the favourite is still Farrell.

“That’s the operative word: speculation. I’m not going to comment on speculation and conjecture,” Farrell said.

For the Blue Jays skip, the 2012 season hasn’t been kind. Settling into his second season at the helm, the road has been everything but smooth. He’s had to use a club-record 32 pitchers, with the bullpen being dismantled to account for injuries in the starting rotation.

Only two of the 10 pitchers who ended up on the disabled list escaped season-ending surgery.

He’s seen club leaders and big bats go down in Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie. He’s put together starting line ups that include only one man from the opening day roster, managing names that mirror an all-star Pacific Coast League team.

Farrell has been tight-lipped about inquiries regarding his future, and confirmed that he was locked up with the club through 2013.

“My focus is clearly here with the Blue Jays, I’m under contract, obviously,” Farrell said, addressing the media after his team’s 12-0 loss to the Orioles in Toronto on Tuesday.

“I can understand that there can be a natural connection [to Boston] because I’ve worked there in the past, but my focus and my commitment has been and is here, unequivocally.”

In a Toronto organization where keeping things quiet is policy, per General Manager Alex Anthopoulos, the questions only get louder without answers.

Whether or not Farrell fits into the Blue Jays plans in the future remains to be seen, but after sending some of their biggest pieces in Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Kevin Youkilis away in 2012, that the Red Sox might be willing to do anything to get what they want.