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Red Sox notebook

Sign of respect on manager?

Report: Francona will be extended

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / February 23, 2011

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Theo Epstein and Terry Francona are entering their eighth season together as general manager and manger of the Red Sox.

Only one other team, the Chicago White Sox, can match that continuity. Kenny Williams started as GM in 2001 and hired Ozzie Guillen as manager before the 2004 season.

According to a Twitter report by Sports Illustrated, the Red Sox intend to pick up Francona’s two-year, $9 million contract option at the end of the season. That would extend his deal through 2013.

Francona said he had not heard that. But he did speak at length yesterday about how well he works with Epstein.

“The way you can judge it is we’re going on our eighth year now in a really crazy place,’’ he said. “If you didn’t have an extremely strong relationship, you’d have no chance in this market. There’s a lot of trust.’’

Francona, 51, and Epstein, 37, come from different backgrounds, particularly in a baseball sense. But the Red Sox have averaged 93.4 wins on their watch and won two World Series.

It’s not always a celebration, however.

“We have our moments, which I think you’re supposed to,’’ said Francona. “I don’t think he would want somebody to be the manager of his team and not have a strong opinion. And I value his opinion a lot; he knows that.’’

When there are disagreements and raised voices, Francona said, you have to move ahead.

“There’s not very many of those days,’’ he said. “It’s good. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that being a manager, you’re worried about today. Being the general manager, you need to be a little bit more of a caretaker of the organization.

“I’ve learned to respect that a little bit more. I also know when the chips are down in the really tough times, I know where I can turn, and he knows that.’’

Francona said the success of the team is based on the players.

“I don’t ever kid myself for one minute,’’ he said.

But he does value his relationship with Epstein.

“It’s good,’’ he said. “Solid.’’

Pitchers lined up The Sox start playing games Saturday and have lined up their pitchers.

Righthanders Stolmy Pimentel, Michael Bowden, and Jason Rice will face Boston College Saturday at 1:05 p.m. at City of Palms Park. In the second game, against Northeastern at 6 p.m., the Sox will pitch righthanders Kyle Weiland and Alex Wilson and lefthander Rich Hill.

The Grapefruit League opener against the Twins across town at Hammond Stadium Sunday night will feature Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, and Brandon Duckworth.

“It’s the Mayor’s Cup, so we’re going to stack it a little bit,’’ said Francona, joking about the trophy the Sox and Twins compete for each spring.

Daisuke Matsuzaka will face the Twins at City of Palms Monday afternoon.

All good Adrian Gonzalez continued his comeback from shoulder surgery by swinging at balls off a tee for a second consecutive day. He advanced from 20 swings to 30. “All good,’’ he said. “I feel great.’’ The Sox have given Gonzalez the option of hitting again today or taking a day off. “We’ll see how he feels,’’ Francona said. “If he shows up and he’s that enthusiastic, we’ll leave it up to him.’’ . . . The Red Sox had a meeting before practice with Major League executives Joe Garagiola Jr. and Larry Young about issues related to umpiring. There is no particular point of emphasis this season, Francona said. The meeting was more of a chance for the players to ask questions about procedures or rules.

Papelbon ailing Jonathan Papelbon missed Sunday’s workout to attend to his wife, who was ill. It caught up to him yesterday, and he spent only a short time on the field. “He didn’t feel too well,’’ said Francona. “He came out today and we [sent] him inside for the majority of the day.’’ . . . Mike Cameron has looked impressive in batting practice, having regained the ability to turn on the ball following abdominal surgery. “We kind of gave him the option to kind of ease into it,’’ Francona said. “I don’t think he feels like he needs to. He’s been doing everything at full speed, every drill.’’ . . . Jason Bergmann, a righthander in camp on a minor league deal, is improving but still has not been cleared to throw because of a weak shoulder . . . Francona, who was named to the National College Baseball Hall of Fame Monday, joked that it was tainted because hitting coach Dave Magadan got in last year.

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

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