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Terry Francona admits to butting heads with Theo Epstein but it’s all good

02.22.11 at 1:32 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. ‘€” Apparently, members of Red Sox management know a good thing when they see it.

They’ve had seven years now to watch manager Terry Francona and they’ve decided that, barring any unforeseen circumstances in 2011, he deserves a contract extension.

Jon Heyman of SI.com reported Tuesday on his twitter page that the club “intends to” exercise the two-year option on Francona’s contract at the end of the season, a move that ‘€” at $4.5 million per season ‘€” would be worth $9 million to Francona.

“I know nothing about their decision,” Francona told Heyman, who was at the Red Sox complex Tuesday.

Francona guided the Red Sox to their first World Series title in 86 years in 2004, his rookie season as a Red Sox skipper. He also led the team to another title in 2007, and has let the Red Sox to the playoffs in five of his seven years as manager.

On Tuesday, just minutes before Heyman’s report, Francona spoke of what his time in Boston has been like working with general manager Theo Epstein, who hired him prior to the ’04 season.

“There’s been days like that,” Francona said when asked if he’s “butted heads” with the GM. “I don’t think we love those days. I think your relationship has to be strong enough where you can disagree. There’s been days where I wish I would have acted differently. We all do. It’s a very good relationship.”

Asked if there were a comfort level with Epstein now, Francona wasted no time answering, “very much so.”

“And there’s not very many of those days It’s good, it’s good,” Francona said. “I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that being a manager, you’re worried about today. Being a general manager, I think you’ve got to be a little bit more of a caretaker of the organization. I think I’ve learned to respect that a little bit more. Opening Day is not the end of the world.”

The most famous example of Francona making a request of Epstein came on May 8, 2005, during a rainy Sunday afternoon during a doubleheader with the Mariners at Fenway Park. Francona was short a reliever in the bullpen and he asked Epstein to call up a specific reliever to make his major league debut.

Cla Meredith gave up a grand slam to Richie Sexson in the seventh inning as the Red Sox lost Game 2 of the doubleheader, 6-4, to the Mariners. Francona said he has really never asked for a player, except in that one case.

“Maybe not necessarily in those words, and the player is actually Cla Meredith, and it was the biggest mistake,” Francona said. “I put [Epstein] in a bad position. He acquiesced.”

Still, Francona doesn’t feel his job has changed since that day in early Dec. 2003, when he was hired to succeed Grady Little.

“I don’t think it’s changed,” Francona added. “I think you try to learn as you go or you’d be missing the boat if you didn’t. But there’s certainly a comfort level as you get to know people and trust develops. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.”

Read More: 2011 Spring Training, Boston Red Sox, Cla Meredith, Francona contract extension
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