Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona said it was his call to end his eight-year tenure with the Red Sox today.
“It was my decision. I don’t know what I want to do. I know I want to stay in the game. This is all I’ve ever done, all I ever want to do,” he said at a news conference at Fenway Park this evening.
But he was also asked if team ownership expressed a desire to have him return in 2012 at a meeting this morning.
“No,” he said. “We talked about a lot of different things. I think they wanted to know how I felt about coming back. I think that’s probably a fair way to put it. I told them a lot of things that were on my mind, we talked obviously a lot about the organization, and then the team, and what went right, what didn’t go right, and then I told them I thought it was time for a new voice. And that’s not an easy thing to say. But I thought it was the right thing to do.”
Francona said he didn’t want to try to reclaim a lost clubhouse next season because he felt not all of the team leadership was on the same page.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t know, or I’m not sure, how much support there was from ownership,” Francona said. “I don’t know that I felt real comfortable. You’ve got to be all in in this job, and I voiced that today. There were some things that, maybe, going through things here, to make it work it’s got to be everybody together, and I was questioning some of that a little bit.”
He also said discord in the Red Sox clubhouse, which was revealed Thursday when Francona and general manager Theo Epstein held a joint press conference, was a big factor in the decision.
“I felt frustrated, my inability to reach maybe guys I’ve been able to in the past,” he said. “Or affect the outcome a little bit differently, and that bothers me.”
Francona was reminded he’d had to deal with the high-maintenance Manny Ramirez during his eight-year tenure, and asked why that experience didn’t translate to this year.
“I don’t want to ever forget, a month ago, we were on pace to win about a hundred games,” he said. “When things started to go, I wanted desperately for our guys to care about each other on the field, I think I’ve referenced that a few times. I wasn’t seeing that as much as I wanted to, and I tried … what I thought I tried to help make that better, the coaches also, just wasn’t ever comfortable.
“You’ve heard me say … about going in one direction and getting through challenges, and meeting them together. I just didn’t think we were doing that, and that’s my responsibility, to get them to do that, and it wasn’t happening to my satisfaction.”
He talked about the challenges of a high-profile job in one of the country’s most high-profile sports cities.
“It’s a wonderful place, but a difficult place to be the manager, and it does wear on you,” he said.
He declined to answer a question about a report that some pitchers were drinking beer in the clubhouse during games on days they were not scheduled to pitch.
“I’d rather talk about generalities. I would never single out players or an event, I’d never do that,” he said. “I think I’ve been pretty open about that I was frustrated, and couldn’t reach some of the things I thought needed to be reached, but I’d never single out players.”