Terry Francona: Wounds too fresh
Still chafed by the way his tenure in Boston ended, former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Tuesday he would not be a part of any team festivities next week celebrating the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park.
Francona, now a baseball analyst for ESPN, told The Boston Globe for Wednesday's editions that "somebody went out of their way to make me look pretty bad."
He was referring to a Globe report which cited unnamed team sources as saying Francona's performance as manager in 2011 might have been affected by his troubled marriage and use of pain medication.
I'm sure they'll have a great event and I was part of a lot of that stuff there, but I just can't go back there and start hugging people and stuff without feeling a little bit hypocritical.” -- Terry Francona
"It's a shame," Francona told the Globe's Dan Shaughnessy, with whom he is writing a book. "I'm sure they'll have a great event and I was part of a lot of that stuff there, but I just can't go back there and start hugging people and stuff without feeling a little bit hypocritical."
Francona and the Red Sox parted ways after the club collapsed last September and missed the playoffs. Shortly after, the Globe published a story painting the Red Sox clubhouse as dysfunctional and Francona as a manager unable to control the situation.
The Red Sox have invited back every former player or manager, including Francona, for the centennial celebration of Fenway Park next week, which culminates in the 100th anniversary game on April 20.
Francona apparently is not the only one prepared to skip the milestone celebration.
According to a baseball source, Grady Little was sent an invitation to his North Carolina address, but to date the club has not received a reply.
That is not likely to come as a shock to anyone. Little was fired under humiliating circumstances in 2003, just days after the Red Sox lost Game 7 of the ALCS to the Yankees. Instead of praise for taking the Red Sox to within a game of what would have been their first World Series since 1986, Little was eviscerated for his decision not to replace ace Pedro Martinez with a reliever with the Red Sox ahead by three runs with six outs to go.
Little, like Francona, was deeply wounded by the circumstances of his exit from the Red Sox, and said at the time: "If they don't want me, fine, they don't want me."
In March, Francona said he was unsure if he would attend the 100th anniversary events at Fenway.
"I don't know, I wouldn't anticipate it at this point. I'm not quite ready for the hugs yet," he said at the time.
Tuesday, Francona said he turned down the offer in a phone call with owner John Henry last month and again in a conversation with team president Larry Lucchino on Monday, according to the report.
"Larry called me yesterday," Francona told the Globe on Tuesday. "I was in a phone store in Arizona. I had three people standing around me. I was at a little bit of a disadvantage. He got a little perturbed at me, telling me I was being unfair to them.
"I called him back last night and left him a message. He called me back and we ended up getting into an argument. I just feel like someone in the organization went out of their way to hurt me and the more we talked I realized we're just not on the same wavelength. They're probably better off going forth and leaving me out of it."
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Lucchino told the Globe he understood "how strongly (Francona) feels on this matter."
"I thought there was some uncertainty as to whether he had actually gotten the invitation," Lucchino said, according to the report. "He's going to be here (April 22 vs. the Yankees) for the Sunday night game (as part of ESPN's broadcast team), so I called him and invited him and he declined.
"It was a sincere invitation for him to come back. He has an exalted place in our history and we were hoping it would be convenient and comfortable for him to come back and we were hoping it would be," Lucchino said, according to the Globe.
This isn't the first time Francona has expressed his distaste about his departure from Boston. Earlier this spring, he told reporters he was perturbed that Henry had not returned any of his calls in the wake of the Globe's report. When the two finally did talk, Francona said, the conversation "was probably five months too late."
It was during that conversation that Henry first extended the invitation to Fenway for the centennial celebration, Francona told the Globe on Tuesday.
Until I'm more comfortable with some answers on what happened at the end of the year, I don't want to have much to do with the organization and that's a shame.” -- Terry Francona
"Until I'm more comfortable with some answers on what happened at the end of the year, I don't want to have much to do with the organization and that's a shame," Francona told the Globe on Tuesday. "With all the good things that were accomplished, I just feel pretty strongly about that.
"It was pretty raw at the end of the year. I think I've done a pretty good job of moving on from that. At the same time, I'm never going to forget that," Francona said, according to the report. "For me to go back and start waving and hugging, I'm just not comfortable doing that. I made it pretty clear to John Henry. When I told Larry that, he said, 'Well, I haven't talked to John about it.' I said, well then how (expletive) important could it be?
"When I spoke to John, he made me think they were going to make an effort. John and Larry made it clear to me they weren't responsible for what was said (in the Globe report). I thought they owed it to me to get to the bottom of it a little bit," he added, according to the newspaper.
Francona, who managed the team from 2004-11 and won two World Series, said he does not have a "vendetta" against the Red Sox, according to the Globe.
"I just don't feel comfortable coming back because of what happened and that's a shame because I do feel awfully strong ties to so many people there," he said, according to the report.
ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes contributed to this report.