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Buster Olney on M&M: ‘The feelings of hurt are fresh’ with Terry Francona

04.11.12 at 12:40 pm ET
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ESPN MLB analyst Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni to discuss Ozzie Guillen, the dynamics inside the Red Sox clubhouse and the relationship that exists between the Red Sox and Terry Francona, among other things.

Having worked with Francona throughout spring training and the early juncture of the 2012 regular season, Olney said that he has developed a relationship with Francona, and that the former Red Sox manager is still hurt by the way that his successful tenure in Boston came to an abrupt end at the end of last season. For that reason alone, Olney said he is not surprised that Francona does not intend to go back to Fenway Park to be part of any celebrations surrounding the park’s 100th anniversary.

“There’€™s no question — the feelings of hurt are fresh,” Olney said. “There’€™s probably some question in his mind about who exactly was the source of the information, who should I believe in this situation. To be honest with you, I don’€™t know many managers who, after they’€™ve been fired, can immediately go back to their old place.”

Building on the way that the 2011 season came to a crashing end for the Red Sox, Olney said that there is still some tension in the team’s clubhouse surrounding who or what could have possibly been the source for a story that detailed the team’s late-season collapse, most notably with players drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games.

“It’€™s not like 25 guys are sitting there playing a game of Clue on this,” Olney said. “It’€™s a small group of players. But it absolutely has been an issue in spring training — accusations going across the clubhouse, and it will be interesting to see if they can turn the page on it.

“From what I understand, it wasn’€™t like ‘€˜OK, let’€™s turn the page, full steam ahead,’€™ it was, ‘€˜Oh yeah? Well the heck with you, the heck with you.’€™ The thing is still festering.”

Moving on to this season, Olney said that, despite taking the loss in a 7-3 setback to the Blue Jays Tuesday night, Red Sox fans should have reasons for optimism after Daniel Bard‘s first regular-season start.

“It’€™s kind of sad because if this were just a normal situation and you looked at his start in a vacuum with no other issues attached to it, you would go, ‘€˜He did OK,’€™ ” Olney said. “There were times, and I don’€™t know if you guys agree with me, where you’€™re like, ‘€˜Wow, he’€™s got something here.’€™ He didn’€™t show a lot of his third pitch, but based on what he told me in spring training, I didn’€™t think he was suddenly going to come out throwing 20 percent change-ups anyway.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

On whether tension in the Red Sox clubhouse could divide the team: “I don’€™t think there’€™s any question about that and I think it speaks to the depth of the feelings of betrayal and hurt of how this thing played out. Let’€™s face it, it’€™s not just an issue of, ‘€˜Well, we didn’€™t win the division and we didn’€™t make the playoffs and that’€™s really disappointing and I’€™m really mad about that.’€™ It’€™s ‘€˜OK, is there someone in this room who is telling everyone what happens in this clubhouse,’€™ because being a dopey sportswriter, that’€™s one of the unspoken mantras — what goes on in here, stays here.”

On the potential for Bard to be moved back to the bullpen if needed: “Of course there’€™s this other issue hanging over the team with the back end of the bullpen. Just really having gotten a sense of Ben Cherington and how he’€™s going to do his job, I would be surprised now after he came out flatly and said Bard is going to be in the starting rotation, if they reversed course on that early in the season. If they’€™re just hanging around in the race and they’€™re not too far out of touch from the leaders, I think as long as that goes on, Bard will continue to start.”

On Ozzie Guillen’s future with the Marlins: “I think the big thing we have to watch are the attendance figures for their upcoming home series. I think that will, in the end, be the true barometer over what the fallout of this is. Are the fans going to stop coming out there? Are there going to be people in South Florida who will never support the Marlins as long as Ozzie’€™s the manager? I know Ozzie, I’€™ve gotten to know him. He’€™s got a big heart and as we all know, he doesn’€™t have a filter on what he says. Just knowing, especially in ballplayer speak, the praise that he had for [Fidel] Castro was probably right along the lines of what he’€™d say about a pitcher through 300 innings or a Cal Ripken who plays through 2,000 straight games. His feeling is, ‘€˜Wow, it’€™s amazing Castro’€™s still in power.’€™ I’€™m sure that’€™s what he meant, but that’€™s not how he comes across and he was incredibly insensitive toward the marketplace with the Marlins right now. It’€™s like insulting their customers and that’€™s why, going forward, his job standing is going to be an issue if people don’€™t come to their games.”

Read More: ben cherington, cal ripken, Daniel Bard, Ozzie Guillen
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