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Terry Francona on The Big Show: ‘Blowing off steam’ with Manny Ramirez comment

02.22.12 at 6:00 pm ET
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Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, now an analyst for ESPN, joined The Big Show Wednesday to discuss the upcoming baseball season and his days as the team’s skipper. Francona discussed Manny Ramirez, Carl Crawford and the Sox’ rotation, among other things.

A column written in November by Peter Gammons quoted Francona as saying “Manny Ramirez is the worst human being I’ve ever met” in the 2008 season. Francona wasn’t sure he said those exact words, but did say he was angry with Ramirez after he had pushed traveling secretary Jack McCormick.

“I actually talked to Peter this morning,” Francona said. “I don’t remember ever saying that about somebody. I think what probably happened is — I know it was the Jack McCormick incident — I was probably blowing off some steam, and I was having a conversation with Peter, not an interview. I don’t want to sit here and say I was misquoted, because it wasn’t an interview. I don’t think I’ve ever said that about somebody.”

Francona said that Gammons said he shouldn’t have written the quote, but Francona’s fine with it now.

“I was probably blowing off some steam,” he said, “but when you blow off steam sometimes you learn the hard way, so whatever.”

The former manager did admit that he was very upset when Ramirez shoved McCormick, reportedly over the number of tickets McCormick could secure for a game in Houston.

“That was probably the hardest thing that happened to me with the Red Sox, and it just bothered me so much and it ate at me so much, that yeah, it was hard,” Francona said. “It was very difficult.”

Francona couldn’t guess what the Athletics, who signed the slugger Monday, might be getting with Ramirez.

“Manny might be in a great place. I don’t know,” he said. “I haven’t been around him for a while. There were a lot of good moments with Manny. There were just some that were tough, and some that were tougher than others, but it wasn’t just [problems] like every day. ‘€¦ That’s not how I felt. It was probably a bad day, and we’ve all said things like that.”

Sox left fielder Carl Crawford recently said that he felt that he had to force himself to be a power hitter when batting lower in the order, and that he and Francona hadn’t spoken about it. Francona denied that.

“I think [that's] — what’s the word? — revisionist history,” Francona said. “I probably have a little bit different version of that. As to where we hit him in the order, we started out the season wanting to hit him up high in the order. As the season unfolded rather quickly, the five guys we hit from 1-5, I think they broke records for offensive production. I’m not sure, where, being a responsible manager, if I shoved him in there, I’d have been doing the right thing for the team. There’s no way to get around it. He was struggling. He was having a hard time and he acknowledged that when we sat down and talked to him about hitting him lower in the order and just making sure he understood it.

“Guys remember things differently, and those are the types of stories that come out a year later. I don’t quite remember it the same way. I know I was talking to [former Red Sox bench coach] Demarlo Hale today about that a little bit and he kind of remembered it a little different too.”

Francona also addressed the fact that owner John Henry had not been returning his phone calls. The two have since spoken.

“In the last couple of days, I actually spoke to him at length. ‘€¦ He had texted me right after the season was over, and I called him back a number of times and never heard back from him,” he said. “It was a little miscommunication, but saying that, we had a conversation and it was probably a 30-minute conversation. It was probably five months too late, but it was a good conversation. It was honest from both sides, and I thought it was good. Good for everybody.”

Francona would not divulge what was discussed, saying it was a “personal conversation.”

“I told him, ‘You share whatever you want to share, but I’m not,'” Francona said. “That’s kind of how I left it with him.”

As for this year’s team, Francona shed light on the team’s decision to move Daniel Bard from the bullpen to the starting rotation.

“Daniel Bard’s not going to struggle as a starter,” he said. “The worry that I would have is probably his innings limit. You can’t just take a guy from the bullpen and let him throw 200 innings, and the Red Sox are as aware of that as anybody. They’re so good about watching stuff like that. If you average that out over the course of 35 starts, that’s five innings a start, so then you’re looking for someone to pick up those innings, which is hard because the guy you want to pick up those innings just made the start.

“I think people are forgetting that having a healthy Clay Buchholz back is huge. This kid turned himself into an All-Star pitcher, and all of a sudden once you’re not pitching, people seem to forget that. If he comes back healthy and he can lob 200 innings, wow, what a difference in the rotation.”

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