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ALCS Notebook

Francona has found a new calling

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / October 9, 2011

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ARLINGTON, Texas - Terry Francona, looking sharp in a dark suit and green tie, acknowledged he was nervous before calling Game 1 of the American League Championship Series for Fox last night.

A television neophyte, the former Red Sox manager was counting on play-by-play man Joe Buck to carry him through.

“I wouldn’t have done this without Joe,’’ said Francona, who is filling in while Tim McCarver recovers from a minor heart procedure. “I’ve known him since Triple A. He says he’ll get me through it and I trust him. He said he has a multiyear deal, so I can’t take him down.’’

Francona was in New York last week to practice for his new job. When the Yankees lost, he boarded a flight to Texas. Francona said he hasn’t gotten used to the idea of not managing the Sox.

“I still catch myself saying, ‘we.’ It’s hard to go eight years and say ‘we’ and ‘us,’ ’’ he said. “I’ve had to do a few things, but I’ve tried to kind of lay under the radar a little bit and let it go away.

“I think it’s hard as you’re emotional. Any time you’re emotional, it’s hard to look at stuff. I’m sure as I get less emotional I’ll have a better perspective, but I’m not there yet.

“Then this came along and I kind of dove into it. I don’t want to embarrass myself.’’

Francona knew the White Sox had settled on Robin Ventura as their new manager and was never involved in those discussions. With no other managerial openings, he’s trying to decide what comes next.

“That’s something I’ll have to sit down and take a deep breath and try to make a good decision,’’ he said. “That’s not an easy decision to make a good one.

“I took that year with Cleveland [in the front office in 2001] and it was probably the best thing I did. There will be some people I want to talk to, just for advice and things like that. See what makes sense.’’

Francona was a bench coach with Texas and Oakland after the Phillies fired him as manager in 2000. Might he try that route again?

“I don’t know,’’ Francona said. “First of all, you don’t know what’s available. You don’t know what people want. I don’t know.

“Sometimes those things kind of rise where somebody will call you and say, ‘Hey, you interested in this?’ and it kind of gets your juices flowing. It’s still a little early for me.’’

He does not expect to make television his new career.

“No. I hope I have fun. I want to have fun,’’ he said. “I’m more comfortable in uniform and I always will be.’’

Francona said he has been so busy with Fox that he hasn’t had a chance to follow the turmoil in the Red Sox front office and didn’t have an opinion on whether general manager Theo Epstein would bolt for the Cubs.

“None of my business,’’ he said.

Chemistry lesson Francona left the Red Sox because of his admitted inability to solve the team’s chemistry problems.

Two of the marquee players in this series, Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre and Detroit designated hitter Victor Martinez, were key components of the 2010 Red Sox, a team Francona often lauded for its tenacity and character.

The irony was hard to miss.

Beltre hit .296 for the Rangers with 33 doubles, 32 home runs, and 105 RBIs. The Rangers were 75-48 when he was in the starting lineup, 21-18 without him. He hit three home runs in Game 4 of the Division Series against Tampa Bay.

“Leadership, his leadership in the clubhouse, his leadership in the dugout during the game,’’ Rangers manager Ron Washington said regarding Beltre’s contributions to the team.

Michael Young made a statement about Adrian that’s true about him also. He not only shows up to the ballpark to do his job but he shows up to the ballpark to beat his opponent.

“And that’s what Adrian Beltre brings. And he brings that out with the rest of his teammates.’’

Martinez hit .330 with 40 doubles, 12 homers, and 103 RBIs for the Tigers in the first year of a four-year, $50 million deal. He caught only 26 games, getting most of his playing time as the DH.

“He’s been absolutely tremendous and I really give him a lot of credit because I think a lot of guys at some point have an issue with DHing,’’ Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.

Rain plays a role Last night’s game was twice delayed by rain for a total of 1 hour and 50 minutes. There hadn’t been a rain delay at Rangers Ballpark since May 24 . . . Left fielder Delmon Young (oblique strain) was left off the Tigers roster. Ryan Raburn, a .256 hitter during the regular season, started in left field last night and hit second . . . The only change to the Texas roster was the addition of righthanded reliever Yoshinori Tateyama. He took the place of catcher Matt Treanor.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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