DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Red Sox manager John Farrell spoke with the media for about 15 minutes prior to Monday's contest against the Blue Jays, with whom he spent the past two seasons as skipper. The Toronto press joined the Boston corps to see what he had to say about facing his former team for the first time.
While Farrell offered a few gracious comments about his time with the Toronto organization, the former Blue Jays manager was firmly focused on the Red Sox.
“April will get here when it does," said Farrell, who was booed by Jays fans here. "We’ve got a lot of work to do right now. I’m certainly not looking too far ahead. How that (facing the Blue Jays) unfolds -- we’ll see. I fully respect that team. They’ve got a darn good team, and I look forward to competing against them."
Here are some other notable highlights:
* Red Sox righthander Steven Wright matched up against Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey in Monday’s game, a battle of two knuckleballers. Farrell said it was just a coincidence that two knuckleballers started against each other.
"We didn't call Toronto and ask if Dickey was going to pitch so we would match him Wright, so it's just coincidental," Farrell said when asked if the Red Sox planned on having Wright face Dickey. "It falls on the same day. So this is one of the rarities and really a unique opportunity to see two knuckleballers, one which obviously is a reigning Cy Young Award winner and one who is developing to hopefully become a big league pitcher."
Farrell was excited about Wright being able to gain some insight from former Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who was on hand in Dunedin to begin his stint as a mentor to Wright.
"To have him in person, not only here in today's game to watch how these two innings will go, but also be with him in uniform when he throws his side, those interactions are invaluable," Farrell said. "I'm sure R.A. can probably speak to some of those interactions that Wake had when he was out in Seattle. It's such a tight-knit fraternity, to have a guy with him that's blazed a long successful trail ahead of him, I'm sure he'll take advantage of it."
Wakefield said it is the first time he has seen Wright pitch, either live or on video.
"I know he throws it hard, which is fine," Wakefield said. "I wish I could have thrown mine harder, but I couldn’t. I wasn’t blessed with the arm speed. R.A. throws his just as hard and he won the Cy Young. I told him, I don’t care how hard you throw it, I don’t care you hold it. The big key is regaining your delivery and taking the spin off it consistently."
* Offseason acquisition Mike Napoli (hip) will hit against Boston right-hander Clay Buchholz in a simulated game on Tuesday. Farrell projects that Napoli will be able to get some plate appearances in a spring training contest starting on Friday.
"We’ll increase the intensity on the basepaths between now and then, but everything looks in order for Friday," Farrell said.
Farrell said Napoli will play first and probably get a couple at-bats against the Pirates on Friday.
"Increased intensity on the field in the agility work," Farrell said. "He’s still according to his protocol. Still making progress there."
Buchholz will throw 35 pitches, essentially two innings, in the simulated game.
Buchholz, who strained his hamstring nearly two weeks ago, will be ready to start Saturday against the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers.
Farrell said Buchholz will still be able to get six starts this spring.
* Craig Breslow, who has experienced shoulder discomfort throughout the early part of spring training, did not throw today, but Farrell said the pain has begun to subside.
"He continues to go through strengthening," Farrell said. "The discomfort he was feeling has really cleared up, but through the manual resistance tests, we’re still working to build that before we initiate the throwing program."
* Felix Doubront, who has also experienced shoulder discomfort this spring, is on schedule to throw live batting practice Monday and Wednesday and is projected to pitch in his first game next Monday.
Farrell said Doubront will have the opportunity to make six spring training starts.