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Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona on D&H discusses relationship with Sox owners, ’04 celebration, return to Fenway

06.12.14 at 4:02 pm ET
By
Indians manager Terry Francona (AP)

Indians manager Terry Francona (AP)

Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, back at Fenway Park on Thursday for the start of a four-game series between his Indians and the Red Sox, joined the Dale & Holley show on WEEI to take stock of his feelings about Boston and the Red Sox, including the team’s owners.

With three years now separating him from his job with the Red Sox, Francona has said that it’s become easier to reflect fondly on his time in Boston and to focus on the better memories of his eight-year tenure.

“I’ll always have great memories here. That’ll never change,” said Francona. “If you like baseball, there’s probably no better place to be in baseball than in Fenway, in Boston. It didn’t end the way I wanted it to. It’s not the script I would have written. … I’ll probably never change my feeling that that bothered me. I don’t wake up every morning and think about it. … The more comfortable you get somewhere else, it’s easier to think about the good times and the memories as opposed to when it was raw.”

At the same time, he suggested that he isn’t sure if his relationship with Red Sox principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner will ever be repaired based on the fallout from his firing.

“You hate to carry grudges. I don’t think that’s very healthy. I also haven’t talked to them. I know when I came here last year, [CEO Larry Lucchino] went out of his way to say hello. Larry’s funny. I think Larry kind of likes a fight. But having said that, he wakes up the next day and forgets it. And I respect that and always have. The other two guys, I haven’t spoken to and don’t know that I ever will,” said Francona. “Just being totally honest, we all make mistakes, and I certainly did. Going through that last September, as bad as we did, as a manager, you need to be held accountable for that. I think I was wide open for criticism because of the way we played. I just didn’t appreciate that someone went out of their way to hurt me. That will forever stay with me.”

Asked if the outlook could change if Henry and Werner  approached him to express compassion, or to say they were still looking into the leaks that included unflattering off-the-field reports about Francona, the manager was unsure.

“Probably would have a couple years ago because that’s all I ever asked them to do,” said Francona. “When I talked to [John Henry] the one time, when you tell someone you’re going to call them back, call them back. I think the story changed a little bit with time and some of the things I said, I just wanted them to find out. I didn’t ask them to call me back. They promised me to call me back. I think when you make a promise, you follow through.”

To listen to the complete interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Some other highlights of the interview:

On working for the Indians:

“The people I work for, I couldn’t ask for better working conditions, and I enjoy our team. ‘€¦ It doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges, but to go through things with guys you care about, especially where I’m at in my career and maybe even my life, it means a lot to me.”

On the difference between Cleveland and Boston:

“It’s been more baseball and less off-the-field stuff. ‘€¦ I didn’t go there to go to pasture. I didn’t lose my competitive juices. But we spend more time talking about baseball.”

On the 10th anniversary celebration of the 2004 championship team — to which Francona said that he was invited:

The players are supposed to be out front anyway, so watching from a distance was OK. … I’m glad they didn’t [wait to do it until the Indians were at Fenway]. They don’t need to make that about me. … It sounds from all accounts like the did a great job.”

On managing Manny Ramirez, and whether all has been forgiven:

“So much of the time, Manny is like a goofy, young, likable kid. When you’re in charge of a team and making sure the team goes in one direction, you’re in charge, you’re responsible for discipline, and we butted heads sometimes. And because it’s in Boston, it became rather public.”

On the ’04 team:

“I do remember when we were struggling and everyone was worrying, thinking, if we can just catch the ball a little bit better, we can be good. … That’s exactly what we did.”

On being part of the coaching staff for John Farrell in the All-Star Game:

“It was one of the biggest honors I’ve ever gotten. … I’m actually looking forward to going, when I can sit back, watch and enjoy it.”

On his feelings about being back in Boston:

“I come with anticipation because you can’t spend eight years in a place and not get close to people. … You can’t help but have great memories. I’m glad I’m in a place where I can have those memories, because for a while it was hard for me.”

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