Francona keeping it casual

February, 13, 2011
2/13/11
6:52
PM ET


FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Terry Francona was resplendent in white Sunday afternoon, down to his snazzy sneakers, all bearing a familiar corporate logo. Yes, the Red Sox manager said, he had a new endorsement deal, accounting for his choice of attire. Why else?

“I’m not a male nurse,’’ he said.

Soon enough, Francona will be wearing his regular work clothes, but on Sunday, the official reporting date of Sox pitchers and catchers, the atmosphere still leaned toward casual. The manager and his staff including new pitching coach Curt Young, have been engaged in two days of meetings, reviewing the roster, and there are physicals to be conducted, scheduled for Monday.

But beyond a few games of catch, Daisuke Matsuzaka’s 70-pitch bullpen session and some running, the outdoor activity was light on a gorgeous cloudless day. The first scheduled workout is Tuesday (most players had already checked in last week) and a number of them had gone across the state the night before to attend a farewell party for retired third baseman Mike Lowell.

There were new arrivals, most notably bearded reliever Bobby Jenks and old faithful Tim Wakefield, who at age 44 made his 16th consecutive appearance in Sox camp. Matsuzaka has a new interpreter, Jonathan Papelbon a new truck. Jarrod Saltalamacchia was toting a guitar. Hall of Famer Jim Rice showed up in a Chevy. Peter Gammons, who has his own place in the Hall, tweeted.

The captain, Jason Varitek, was expected later in the afternoon, his typical MO on report date, and only a couple of newcomers, Alfredo Aceves and Dennys Reyes, were expected to make delayed arrivals, both because of visa issues, Francona said.

But on a day that New England’s thoughts tilted to baseball -- at least after the Celtics and Bruins both finished their games Sunday afternoon -- Francona addressed a number of issues while maintaining the status quo on one.

You really didn’t expect him to unveil his lineup of choice, did you?

“We didn’t spend a whole lot of time talking about it,’’ he said. “We’ll get to that.’’

Discussed it with any players?

“Haven’t talked to anybody yet,’’ he said. “We’ll get to that. I know it’s fun stuff in Boston, but it’ll work itself out.’’

It would almost seem impossible to go wrong when adding Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to a lineup already boasting Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz. Someone asked Francona if it was Astros manager Brad Mills, his former bench coach and still a very close friend, who admonished the manager not to “[expletive] things up.”

“Actually I had a few of those,’’ Francona said. “One of them was from Theo.’’

But as Francona quickly noted, the expectations of GM Theo Epstein and the rest of the organization are really no different this year than any other year he has been here.

“Our goals on the field never change,’’ he said. “However your talent is perceived, I can’t imagine playing the game differently. Right’s right, wrong’s wrong, and we do the best we can.’’

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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