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Francona on WEEI: 'Maybe it was just time' to leave the Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  October 5, 2011 03:52 PM

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Could be work with Theo again? "Oh, my goodness. It depends what the job is. I don't want to be the clubhouse guy. I don't want to speak for Theo. That's not fair. He's got his things to take care of this week, I know. That's his business. He knows the respect I have for him."

If they had picked up your option, would you have resisted? "No. Some of these are personal conversations and I hope you respect that. Eight years together is a lot and I have a lot of respect for them and what they do. There were some things that were voiced in meetings I viewed maybe as not being supportive. Maybe they didn't. Everybody has their own opinion."

He said the players didn't care enough about each other. Why was that? "I don't know. It's a fair question. I don;t think it's quite as bad as people are portraying. My point was to be a World Series team, we needed to get some things done. There's clubhouses I know have a lot of issues going on that the Red Sox don't. We have some spectacular people down there. I know what we've gone through in the past eight years and I knew that we weren't on the same path. Going through challenges is part of baseball. How you meet those challenges is what drove me and I wasn't always comfortable with what we were doing. It was probably for a lot of reasons. I didn't have the answers."

Did he underestimate the team's leadership: "I think we have some outstanding leaders. I think it's more that as the season progresses, teams take on a personality and an identity and we didn't seem to be doing that and I thought we had opportunities to do it. Sometimes when you get beat, teams come together and they form a bond and I didn't see that happening as much as I wanted it to. I thought we were capable of slugging out way through this and then getting it figured out and turning Lester and Beckett loose in the playoffs and going on one of those runs. I knew were beat up and I knew we weren't playing well, I saw that. But I thought we were capable of figuring out a way to get though it and kind of regrouping."

On the character of the players: After saying he remembered few off-field issues, Francona said, "We've actually always allowed beer in the clubhouse because I thought they were men and I thought they deserved to be treated like it. They've always handled it. A lot of clubhouse now don't have beer. I thought our guys didn't deserve to be treated like high school kids. We tried to give them a lot of leeway to be grown-up men. I mean that in a lot of instances, not just alcohol. Playing the game, being on time, showing up when you're supposed to, paying attention to detail. Basically being a good teammate."

How much did the pitchers miss John Farrell? "I think anybody would miss John Farrell. He's outstanding. Saying that, Curt Young was a blessing. I know people may not want to hear that. This guy was about as steady as you're going to find. This guy, I've never seen a guy so upbeat. If you can't listen to him, you've got a problem. Because when he talks, he's got a lot of good stuff to say and I don't think that was issue."

Did his closeness to Dustin Pedroia undermined his leadership or made some players wonder if Francona was playing favorites: "Oh, boy. I don't think you're every go through a clubhouse where 25 guys bow down to the manager. That's not realistic. I would hope that everybody that came through that clubhouse felt important. My relationship with Pedey was probably a once-in-a-lifetime. ... It's just hard not to. This guy's the most special kid I've ever seen in my life. The next manager is going to feel the same way. That's just the way he is. No, Pedey was one of the best leaders Ive ever been around. Probably to the point where probably makes it harder on him to be an effective player because he wears it so much."

On hearing from former players: "I don't dislike these players. In fact, I love them. I was disappointed in my ability to reach them, especially late. But that doesn't mean they're bad kids. That's not how I feel about this."

Would he like to manage in 2012?: "I don't know. I really don't know. I certainly would love to stay in the game. I have no ambition to ever leave the game. I love it so much and it's been so good to me. I don't want to try to manage in a wrong situation because that wouldn't be good for me. To manage again, you have to have somebody who thinks you're worthy of that. That may not happen. It may happen down the road, who knows? I need to try and take a deep breath and try to have some perspective right now because it's not the easiest thing to do.

"I just don't want to go look for a job. Not that I'm above that. I don't mean it like that. I would want it to be a job that I can grab. You have to be all-in, you do. Whether it's a young team you can help get better or a team that has a chance to win. There's a lot of ways to get rejuvenated. Just kind of sit back and see how I feel. Talk to friends, get some input and see what's going on."

On broadcasting the ALCS: "I hope Joe Buck has a multi-year deal. When he called me I thought he was kidding. I've only broadcast one other game in my life and that was in the Arizona Fall League about 13 years ago and it was on radio and there were probably 12 people [listening] and I sucked. So this is going to be interesting."

On the end of the season: "We played terrible baseball and that was my responsibility. ... When things are going bad, the best way to reverse it is with good pitching and we couldn't get that. That made it tougher."

On failing to get through to this team yet getting through to Manny Ramirez in the past: "Manny called me, how about that? I was very surprised. Actually a very nice message and I appreciated it a lot.

On the team's conditioning, did the pitchers get out of shape?: "I don't know if that's a fair assessment. If you look around the game, and I don't want to name names. But look at who pitched for New York [the other] night. He's a big guy and nobody's complaining about CC [Sabathia]. There are reasons sometimes. Some of our pitchers aren't able to run like they used to for various reasons. I think they do sometimes put on weight. Are we concerned, sure? But I don't think it means they don't work. We just wanted to make sure it was for the right reasons. We keep an eye on everything here so much. I think that may be getting a little bit of a life of its own. Dave Page, our strength and conditioning guy, he's about as conscientious as anybody you're ever going to find and he finds ways to get to guys and I love it. I feel like to be a successful organization you have to let guys have their responsibilities. I know I'm responsible to overlook it, but I don't want to micromanage everything. I don't think that helps everybody."

On what he takes from his tenure: I gave everything I had, I really did. Whether it was right, wrong, and or in between, I always tried to do the best I could for the team and I always tried to put the organization ahead of my own personal stuff and I hope that was apparent.

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