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Thursday, May 19, 2011
Francona won't look ahead to Cubs -- much

By Jack McCluskey

BOSTON -- Terry Francona doesn’t like to look too far ahead or spend too much time on the past, preferring to keep his eyes on the here and now. So when he was asked before Thursday night’s game with the Tigers about the significance of the Chicago Cubs visiting the Red Sox for the first time in 93 years, at first he balked.

“I’m not good at that,” he said. “It’s hard for me to talk about a series coming up because we’ve got Detroit tonight.”

Then, after a beat, he relented. “Go ahead, what do you want?”

The reporter pressed on, through the laughter of his peers, citing the history between the two clubs.

“Yeah, I know,” Francona said. “You know what, though, I have a feeling that if you talk to the Tigers they’re gonna feel that way about their team, too. I think this is a great series for the fans. You’re right, there is some history there, I understand that. I think it’s gonna be a big ticket.

“I think from where we look at it, though, it’s an opportunity to win a game,” the manager said. “That’s how we always [approach it]: We’ve got a team coming in that we’d like to beat. That’s why I get hesitant to talk about a team that’s coming in because right now the Tigers are in our sights and we’ve got our hands full tonight and we don’t ever want to overlook that.”

Asked what he recalled about his own time playing for the Cubs -- he appeared in 86 games with the Cubs in 1986, hitting .250 (31-for-124) with three doubles, two homers and eight RBIs -- Francona was at his self-effacing best.

“Wasn’t very good,” he said, drawing more laughs. “I always seemed like I hit at about a quarter to six, it’d be about the eighth inning, and there was always shadows. I lived north of the city so I fought the traffic in, fought the traffic home and didn’t get very many hits.”

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and contributes to ESPNBoston.com.