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Francona will be frank

Lefthander Andrew Miller will return to the Red Sox after an uneven 2011 season. Lefthander Andrew Miller will return to the Red Sox after an uneven 2011 season. (Barry Chin/Globe Staff)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / December 7, 2011
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DALLAS - Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona said yesterday he plans to be honest when he’s on ESPN analyzing his former team next season.

So maybe we will hear what he actually thinks of some of the players on the roster.

“I would hate to give an opinion on a team or person and not tell the truth, because I wouldn’t be doing my job very well,’’ said Francona, who signed with the network Monday. “I think it’s my personality to be respectful and also honest. I have no problem watching the game and telling the truth.’’

Francona swapped jobs with new Sox manager Bobby Valentine and will call games on Sunday nights as well as making appearances on other shows, including “Baseball Tonight.’’

“I’ll probably sleep better than Bobby,’’ he said. “From where I was last year, I probably needed to step back.

“This was a very refreshing way to step back. I love baseball and I enjoy people and I’m very excited about this new challenge, as I assume Bobby is excited for his new challenge.

“It’s probably win-win for everybody, and that’s how it should be.’’

Houston manager Brad Mills, a close friend, couldn’t wait to crack on Francona about his new job.

“Every time I talk to him now, I say, ‘Is this off the record or on the record?’ ’’ Mills said. “I’ve always told him, too, that if he’s on TV, he might have to spend two hours in makeup just to be on.’’

Miller retained

The Red Sox made their first addition to the major league roster under general manager Ben Cherington when they signed lefthander Andrew Miller to a one-year nonguaranteed deal worth just over $1 million.

Miller could make an additional $50,000 for making 20 starts and $50,000 more for 25 starts.

Miller pitched more like a non-tender candidate last season, posting a 5.54 ERA in 17 appearances, 12 of them starts.

“We’ve been enamored with his potential,’’ Cherington said. “We always felt like [2011] was a development year for him.’’

Miller’s 1.82 WHIP was the second-highest in the American League among pitchers with at least 60 innings. Only Mitch Talbot of the Indians, at 1.85, was worse.

Miller has been with three teams over parts of six seasons. The former first-round pick has a 5.79 career ERA.

“We can continue to work with him,’’ said Cherington. “He’s a lot closer to being an established major league pitcher than he was at this time last year.’’

Getting it right

If Opening Day were tomorrow, Cherington said, Josh Reddick would be the starter in right field.

“We think he’s going to be a very good major league outfielder,’’ Cherington said.

Ryan Kalish is still recovering from surgery to repair a disk injury in his neck and is not expected to be 100 percent at the start of spring training.

“Kalish has a little bit more to overcome, physically, and we think he’s going to be a really good big-league player, too,’’ Cherington said.

Sveum reflects

Dale Sveum could have been the manager of the Red Sox. But his interview with John Henry, Tom Werner, and Larry Lucchino in Milwaukee last month did not lead to a job offer.

Sveum signed with the Cubs the next day, and the Red Sox eventually turned to Valentine.

“I don’t know if it was a surprise or not,’’ Sveum said. “It was basically that time where somebody was going to offer me a job or not offer me a job.

“So the Cubs offered me the job first and that’s kind of where it ended up anyway, after my second interview. After going through all those second interviews, it was just nice to get one offer.’’

Sveum was certainly interested in the Red Sox.

“When you’re in these big markets, it magnifies everything and creates an atmosphere every single night that sometimes you don’t get in other cities,’’ he said. “When you manage in these cities with the spotlight on yourself and the team all the time, it makes it a lot more enticing to have one of these jobs.’’

No deal

The Red Sox and Cubs remain in no hurry to settle on compensation for Theo Epstein. No talks have been held in a week . . . Blue Jays manager John Farrell said he never saw clubhouse misbehavior during his time as Red Sox pitching coach. “I didn’t see the things that were being reported on,’’ he said . . . Farrell was “humbled’’ that the Red Sox were interested in his returning as manager but said he was committed to the Jays . . . Phillies manager Charlie Manuel on his new closer, Jonathan Papelbon: “He wants to pitch right now. He’s fired up.’’

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

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