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Williams, Farrell discuss Boston's high expectactions

Since John Farrell left the Blue Jays to become the Red Sox's manager, all of baseball has wondered what the response would be like when he finally returned to Toronto.

The speculation will end on Friday when Farrell returns to Rogers Centre as the Red Sox and Blue Jays begin a three-game set.

"People are going to have their own opinions, and I respect that. It goes along with the heightened interest in the Blue Jays and a lot of the changes they've made. There's a lot of excitement there," Farrell said of the team he managed the previous two seasons. "In this case, with how things unfolded, the unique set of circumstances that surround both the change in Toronto and here in Boston, I can fully appreciate that they might have those feelings. What might come out of it, we'll see starting tomorrow, but we're looking forward to going up there and competing against them."

More than anything, Farrell sees the series as a measuring stick for his team, which comes into Friday's contest having won two out of three games against the Yankees.

"Definitely looking forward to it," Farrell said. "They've got a good team. We're looking to compete against them. I'm sure the excitement that's around the Blue Jays because of the changes they've gone through in the offseason, this will be a very good challenge for us."

Boston will face one of the Blue Jays' newest pieces in Josh Johnson. Barreling through the spring, the right-hander finished 5-0 with a 2.70 ERA in 20 innings of work. He also struck out 23 and walked only three.

Those numbers were helped by the fact that Johnson displayed a slight increase in his velocity and a curveball that seemed to improve throughout camp.

Meanwhile, Felix Doubront will be on the hill for the Red Sox. He finished the spring going 1-2 with a 4.15 ERA over 13 innings.

The left-hander will make his fifth career start against the Blue Jays on Friday. Finding success at the Rogers Centre last season, Doubront went 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA and 13 strikeouts in two starts.

Red Sox: Ross gets first start behind plate
Catcher David Ross made his debut behind the plate on Thursday in the Red Sox series finale against the Yankees.

"All the work we do in Spring Training is to get to where we can play with the lights on and the extra deck up top in the stands," Ross said. "I'm excited and ready to get this first one under my belt."

His presence was immediately felt in the game, throwing out Brett Gardner on an attempted steal in the bottom of the first.

Blue Jays: DeRosa gets nod at third
Mark DeRosa started at third base in the series finale against the Indians on Thursday as the Blue Jays continue to mix and match at the position until Brett Lawrie is able to return from a strained left oblique muscle later this month.

Manager John Gibbons started infielder Maicer Izturis in the first two games, but he decided to start DeRosa on Thursday to get him some playing time.

"He's going to play tomorrow against a lefty, so give him back-to-back games," Gibbons said. "That usually helps those guys, and you want to get them all in early so you don't waste their Spring Trainings, too."

Worth Noting
• There are eight players on the Opening Day roster for Boston that entered the season having never before played a Major League game for the Red Sox: Jackie Bradley Jr., Mike Carp, Ryan Dempster, Jonny Gomes, Joel Hanrahan, Mike Napoli, Koji Uehara and Shane Victorino.

• Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera is three hits shy of 1,000 for his career.

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