SARASOTA, Fla. — Red Sox manager Terry Francona came to the defense of general manager Theo Epstein this morning in the wake of critical comments made by Orioles manager Buck Showalter.
In the April edition of Men's Journal magazine, Showalter questioned the intelligence of Epstein, saying the Red Sox were a product of their large payroll.
"I got asked that the other day and I hadn't seen it. I got it third-hand and I kind of joked about it a little bit. Then I read it and actually I was kind of aggravated a little bit," Francona said. "I don't think that's anybody's place. That's my boss. I was actually kind of aggravated a little bit. It's not the end of the world, but I thought he shouldn't have done it.
Was Francona surprised?
"Yeah. I can't say I sat there and thought about it a lot. But I didn't see any reason to do that," he said.
Showalter also told the magazine, "That’s why I like whipping their butt. It’s great, knowing those guys with the $205 million payroll are saying, ‘How the hell are they beating us?’ ”
Said Francona: "I don't remember them beating us that much. Maybe it was a different schedule."
Francona was told the Orioles were 3-3 against the Red Sox last season.
"Way to go," he said sarcastically.
Francona said he does not plan to speak to Showalter about the controversy. But clearly it rankled him.
"I just thought that was a little bit out of line," he said. "I don't think he'd be appreciating if I said something about Andy [MacPhail, Baltimore's president of baseball operations], which I wouldn't. It's none of my business. And for the record, I think Andy's really good."
Showalter claimed a few days about that his remarks were taken out of context. Approached by a Globe reporter this morning, he said he had not read the article.
"I guess I should read it. I keep getting asked about it," he said.
Showalter was asked whether he planned to apologize to Epstein.
"Let me get through spring training," he said. "Let me get through spring training. Then we'll see what happens."
Epstein has refused comment about the matter.
Showalter's original comment was:
"I’d like to see how smart Theo Epstein is with the Tampa Bay payroll. You got Carl Crawford ’cause you paid more than anyone else, and that’s what makes you smarter? That’s why I like whipping their butt. It’s great, knowing those guys with the $205 million payroll are saying, ‘How the hell are they beating us?’ ”