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RED SOX NOTEBOOK

Francona might tone down rivalry rhetoric

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In the wake of Trot Nixon saying he doesn't consider Alex Rodriguez the "Yankee type," Sox manager Terry Francona might talk with his players about voicing such thoughts.

"I actually saw those comments and I thought it was more a compliment to [Derek] Jeter," Francona said. "We might discuss that kind of thing."

Francona also acknowledged that it has become difficult to manage against the Yankees the same as he does the other 143 games.

"It's hard to treat those games the same," said Francona, who learned that lesson the night Jeter went into the seats face first while Nomar Garciaparra rested in the Sox dugout. "It's hard to give a guy a day off, as I found out."

General manager Theo Epstein refused to enter the Yankee debates that Curt Schilling, Nixon, and Sox president Larry Lucchino seem to relish.

"He sure was a real enough Yankee for me when he was hitting the ball about 100 feet over the wall against us in Game 3 of the ALCS," Epstein said. "Look, there's always going to be personal rivalries that flare up here and there. But, all in all, we were pretty modest in victory.

"We were down, 0-3. We were down a run in the ninth inning to the best closer in postseason history. We know how much hard work went into it, how much luck went into it, too. There is absolute respect for the Yankees."

Home sweet home
Best result of winning the World Series?

"Being able to buy a home in Scottsdale, Ariz.," Kevin Youkilis said. "Pretty much what I made last year was equal to what I made in the World Series. I was able to move out of the parents' house."

Youkilis received a full World Series share of $223,620. His 2004 salary was $300,000, the major league minimum.

No member of the Sox organization enjoyed a better day-to-day view of Schilling's offseason progress this winter than Youkilis. The sophomore third baseman worked out at Athletes' Performance in Tempe, where Schilling rehabilitated following ankle surgery.

"Right now, he couldn't go out there and pitch the way he needs to be," said Youkilis, who flew here with Schilling on Wednesday. "But by Opening Day he's going to be ready to go against Randy Johnson in Yankee Stadium. And that's going to be surreal, to see that."

Youkilis said Schilling's routine included extensive massage on his ankle, which still has a lengthy, jagged scar along his foot and up his ankle where the incision was made.

"It's not pretty," Youkilis said. "It's getting better. When the stitches were in there it was, I think, the nastiest thing I've ever seen."

Greenwell speaks out
Mike Greenwell's comments to a Fort Myers newspaper have thrust the former Red Sox left fielder back into the spotlight. Greenwell visited the Sox spring training facility yesterday to film an interview with ESPN. He then appeared on "The Dan Patrick Show."

Greenwell, a local real estate developer and volunteer assistant high school baseball coach, told The News-Press on Wednesday he thought he deserved the 1988 American League MVP, which he lost to admitted steroid user Jose Canseco.

Yesterday, Greenwell predicted an adjustment in home run totals the next few seasons as Major League Baseball enforces a more stringent drug-testing policy.

"It will take a year or two for that to get cleaned out of the system," Greenwell said. "Let's see if the numbers go down."

Greenwell was asked whether any former Sox teammates used steroids. He did not answer the question, except to defend Roger Clemens.

"Someone said Roger Clemens might have showed signs," Greenwell said. "I will say this. Roger Clemens is the hardest-working man in baseball. I played with him for 12 years. I never saw anyone work harder. There was never any talk about any kind of steroid use or any kind of illegal drug use. And that's the unfortunate side of this, that some guys will get fingers pointed at them that don't deserve it.

"The biggest thing for me right now is don't cast doubt on guys just because they're good."

Big three
David Wells will be the first Red Sox pitcher to wear No. 3. Babe Ruth wore No. 3 with New York but not Boston, because the Sox didn't wear uniform numbers at the time . . . In January, the Sox hosted their orientation for top prospects. Asked whether any seminars focused on steroids, Epstein said: "We discuss health and conditioning overall. I won't get into what we do and don't talk about because that's confidential. They have a good testing program in the minor leagues that the guys need to be aware of. We make them aware of that." . . . With the exception of nonroster invitee Jack Cressend, all expected pitchers and catchers reported. Cressend will be a few days late with an excused absence because of family reasons, Epstein said.

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