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Francona's daily briefing

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff  February 15, 2009 12:25 PM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Like most of the fans in attendance for Sunday's workout, Red Sox manager Terry Francona sneaked in a few moments to catch a glimpse of some of the early arriving position players taking batting practice and came away with rave reviews.

"I just snuck over to watch those guys hit a little bit," said Francona. "David [Ortiz] came in, [Julio Lugo], [Jacoby] Ellsbury, and [Jed] Lowrie. I'll stay with the pitchers the next couple days. It's amazing, as you get deeper into camp, it goes in cycles, you'll spend some time with the pitchers, but when you start traveling, you can go two to three days without seeing these guys. I don't like that, so I try to spend as much time as possible now."

And his thoughts on Ortiz?

"He looks tremendous," Francona said. "That's very exciting to see, you hear the reports and everything, but then you get to lay eyes on them. I thought Ellsbury, Lugo, and [Pedroia], they look strong, they've obviously worked hard. It makes you feel good."

Much of the Q&A stayed on Ortiz and Francona continued to heap praise on him.

"I think he wanted to get a little bit lighter, but saying that, not weaker," said Francona. "Losing weight, it's not easy to do, he needs to be strong, have a good lower half, but lighter. As you get older, you have an injury or two, that's just part of staying good and he did a good job. I'm really proud of him."

On Pedroia, the league's reigning MVP:

"He comes in, Rookie of the Year, MVP, but more importantly, some of those things are subjective," Francona explained. "He's one of the best players in the league and he's hungry to be better. He's in great shape. I wouldn't be surprised if he's a half-step quicker. He's a good player, nice to have those guys on your side."

Francona also showcased how easy it is to lose track of the days down here. Asked about the remaining position players showing up for camp tomorrow, the manager first said: "They don't need to be here until Tuesday -- reporting is Tuesday right?"

Told that position players had to report by Monday by a Sox staffer, Francona didn't miss a beat.

"Then he'll be here tomorrow. Obviously, there's not a lot of worry on my part. These guys have earned my trust. They'll be here when they're supposed to be."

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