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Seeing stars

Posted by Adam Kilgore, Globe Staff  June 30, 2009 06:31 PM

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Terry Francona is off the hook this year with All-Star selection, and aside from the part about losing the 2008 ALCS, thats just fine with him. Francona has not spoken with American League manager Joe Maddon, but it seems as though he has some sympathy for anyone whos got the task.

Francona talked about how handcuffed a manager can be in the process. By the time fans and players vote and every team is accounted for, the manager actually has very little picking to do. One year we got to make one decision, and the other year we got to make none, Francona said. Its unfair.

Last year, Francona would have liked to put Mike Mussina on the team. He was a longtime Yankee who would have playing in his home stadium. He was having a fine year. He was nearing the end of his career.

We had no chance to put him on the team, Francona said. I had no chance. Im the one who had to explain it. But because of the rules in place, I had no chance to do it. I thought he would have been a great selection. He also would have covered me.

Right theres also managing the game after the team is picked. The often opposing challenges of making sure everyone plays and the team wins vexed Francona as well. Last year, Francona nearly ran out of pitchers as the game extended deep into extra innings.

Youre trying to compete, and youre also trying to get guys in the game, Francona said. Its not fair. Im telling you, its not fair to the manager. I was put in that position. We caught a big break. Because J.D. Drew almost pitched that last inning.

With the best record in the American League, the Red Sox ought to be due for several All-Stars. I would think you could make an argument some stronger than others for these Red Sox to go to St. Louis: Kevin Youkilis, Jason Bay, Jonathan Papelbon, Tim Wakefield, Josh Beckett, Ramon Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, Hideki Okajima, and Manny Delcarmen. The first three are shoo-ins, I think, and Pedroia may yet overtake Ian Kinsler at second base. Jacoby Ellsbury also has an outside shot in the fan vote.

Im afraid what will happen is, some guys will be penalized because we have other guys on the team, Francona said. Im not sure I really agree with that. I dont know how theyll do it this year. I have no reason to be a part of that, because we lost. But we have a lot of guys that should be in on the conversation.

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