Terry Francona, Red Sox meet

Updated: September 30, 2011, 5:03 PM ET
ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- Terry Francona met with Boston Red Sox management on Friday to discuss his future as manager, but the team said a decision has not been reached.

[+] EnlargeTerry Francona
AP Photo/Steven SenneTerry Francona drives away from Fenway Park after deciding the team needed "a new voice."

Shortly after the meeting, Francona, owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner left in separate cars. Francona left first, at 11:55 a.m. ET.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein released a statement Friday afternoon.

"John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino, Ben Cherington and I met with Terry Francona this morning at Fenway Park to exchange thoughts and information on the 2011 season and discuss areas for improvement going forward," he said. "We all plan on taking some time to process the thoughts expressed in the meeting. There are no immediate plans for an announcement."

Despite the statement, Francona told staff members on Thursday that he will not be returning as manager, a club source told ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes on Friday.

Several other media outlets reported Friday that Francona would not return for a ninth season. He led the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 -- their first since 1918 -- and 2007.

The situation remained fluid Friday afternoon, with Edes reporting that Francona returned to Fenway Park shortly after Epstein's statement.

The team has 10 days from the end of its season to decide whether to retain the manager, whose contract has two option years at the club's discretion. Boston missed the playoffs despite leading the AL wild-card race by nine games on Sept. 4. It went 6-18 after that, ending with a 4-3 loss Wednesday night to the Baltimore Orioles.

Red Sox slugger David Ortiz said Friday he was "fine with Tito" but he did hint that the clubhouse had issues, something Francona acknowledged on Thursday.

"I worry about playing baseball more than anything else," Ortiz said. "I know we have some players that (the organization thought were) worried about some other s--- and sometimes there were certain things that no one in the clubhouse can control. I was trying and I have no issues. My only problem was when I started being benched (in 2010) and that was my only issue with Tito. Other than that we're cool."

Ortiz wasn't expecting Francona to leave. "I am surprised," he said. " I'm surprised because I'm hearing things right now (in the news) that I didn't know were going on."

On Thursday, Francona said that this Red Sox team had issues that he thought affected its play. He spoke Thursday about a team meeting he called in Toronto in the aftermath of a 14-0 win on Sept. 6.

"I'm not sure if anybody knew, because there were some things I was worried about," he said. "I think we were spending too much energy on things that weren't putting our best foot forward toward winning. We spent a few minutes in the clubhouse that day, talking about that. There were some things that did concern me.

"Teams normally, as the season progresses, there are events that make you care about each other, and this club, it didn't always happen as much as I wanted it to. And I was frustrated by that."

The Boston Herald reported one divisive issue, citing sources as saying that pitchers were allowed to drink beer in the clubhouse on their off-days. A Red Sox source not only confirmed to ESPNBoston.com that was the case, but also said that it "has been going on for two years."

Ortiz is a free agent and was asked if the manager's status would affect him re-signing with Boston.

"Not at all," he said. "That's one thing I can't really control, who the manager's going to be. That's not on me."

Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com. Information from ESPNBoston.com's Joe McDonald and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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