Farrell more equipped steer Blue Jays

Farrell more equipped steer Blue Jays

Farrell more equipped steer Blue Jays
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- John Farrell appears to be more confident and relaxed during his second go-around as manager with the Blue Jays.

Farrell, who took over for Cito Gaston in October 2010, is more familiar not only with his players, but also his coaching staff. That has increased the level of comfort in camp and provided the club with a greater awareness of what is expected this season.

The 49-year-old set out to change the offensive mindset of his team last year, and now that the more aggressive running style is in place, it has been more about making minor adjustments rather than any drastic alterations.

"Being in this position for the first time, there were a lot of firsts," Farrell said of his rookie season in the dugout. "There was, at this time last year, a steep learning curve on the offensive side, what we were trying to do as a staff ... and then getting to understand the players as well.

"Also, we tried to change the culture of our offensive approach, so there were a lot of firsts from a number of different areas. This year, I'm not saying everything is a package deal, but we're starting at quite a bit of an advanced stage than a year ago."

Farrell entered last season having never managed at any level in professional baseball. He spent the previous four seasons as a pitching coach in Boston and also had experience as the director of player development in Cleveland under his belt.

One of the biggest learning curves in 2011 was having to deal with an entire roster for the first time. Previously in Boston, Farrell had to just concern himself with a 12-man pitching staff, but once in Toronto, he had to learn how to handle the offensive side of the game as well.

By all accounts, the transition was a smooth one, and the players responded favorably to his open-door policy. But that doesn't mean there weren't some bumps along the way, and now Farrell believes he has a better understanding of how to deal with the rigours of a 162-game season.

"There's probably a little bit more freedom on my part on how to approach guys," said Farrell, whose team went 81-81 last year en route to a fourth-place finish in the American League East. "When to pat a guy on the back, put your arm around him, when to be a little bit more stern in some cases.

"But I think this group gelled pretty well together considering the number of changes we went through. We ended the year with some understanding of what the vision for our team is and how we consistently communicate that takes any kind of gray area out of the minds of the players."