For starters, the Red Sox will have their manager today. Terry Francona is feeling better after a “miserable” day battling food poisoning yesterday. “I don’t feel like going jogging,” he said. “But …” All he’s eaten today is a banana and some Saltines, and he’s got a slight headache. But he’s relieved to be rid of the illness.
“I was going down fast,” Francona said. “I was really sick. Like, violently sick. It was terrible. I couldn’t stop getting sick.”
Last night, he laid down in the manager’s office while the p.a. announcer introduced him. He never considered not managing, but he did leave the dugout to be sick a few times during the game.
-Tonight’s game, with Victor Martinez catching Josh Beckett, will reinforce Jason Varitek’s shrinking role on the Red Sox. It has been clear for some time, and late in the season Francona and Varitek discussed the situation. It was Varitek who initiated those conversations.
“You know, it was actually more from his side of it,” Francona said. “He was kind of telling me not to tip-toe around it. Maybe I was. I don’t know that I meant to. But, he goes, ‘Just tell me. I’m a big boy.’ It really helped me. He’s been terrific. He tries to do anything in his power to help us win. He’s got a ‘C’ on his chest. He earned it. And he hasn’t unearned it. He’s not playing as much for various reasons. We’re always trying to do what we think is right. That doesn’t take away anything that he has brought to our team.”
It did not seem like catching Varitek was a close call. “Then we would have had to not play Lowell,” Francona said. “I don’t think that makes us a better team.”
Some players are still adjusting to playing without Varitek. He has been the nerve center of the Red Sox for more than a decade, and his disappearance from the field is odd.
“It’s kind of weird not seeing him behind the plate, you know?” David Ortiz said. “It s a tough situation for ‘Tek, Victor, Terry, the team.”
-The Red Sox plan on arriving back in Boston at about 9 a.m. Saturday. Jon Lester will probably throw a side session, but otherwise no Red Sox will be required to come to Fenway Park aside from Francona and four players for the purposes of speaking to the media.
Francona is weary of taking batting practice because the Red Sox will have to wake up early for Sunday’s noon start; they’ll take batting practice for Game 3 at about 9:30 a.m.
“We could always have optional hitting if we want,” Francona said. “If somebody wants to hit, we’ll be there.”
-Francona saw no need for any extra discussion today with Ramon Ramirez, who loaded the bases last night in facing only three batters in his playoff debut. Francona thought a chat might make him even more nervous.
“He didn’t pitch as well as he wanted,” Francona said. “He’ll be alright.”
Francona was also glad to give Daniel Bard an outing in a low-pressure situation.
-How bad did it get for David Ortiz during the first two months of the season? “I tried everything,” he said. “I was about to start hitting righthanded just to see if things change.”
-Francona gave the last word on last night’s umpiring while answering a question about the Sox’ defense last night: “Gonzalez’s play was a great play. CB made an error. Mikey Lowell didn’t make an error.”