|WATCH: David Ortiz greets Terry Francona with a hug|
BOSTON — Just another day at the ballpark?
Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona makes his return to Fenway Park for the first time as manager of the Cleveland Indians, a strange sight to be seen, for sure.
But neither Francona or his former Red Sox players are thinking too much into it, at least publicly.
Francona, for perhaps the first time ever, held his pregame press conference in the visitors dugout surrounding by a hoard of media. But even though Francona is seeing things now from the other dugout, in another uniform, he still feels just fine.
"I've been in this dugout before. You gotta remember, being in a dugout or a clubhouse, there's really no place I'm more comfortable," Francona said. "Just because you make a left instead of a right, it's all the same people. But I think part of the reason I'm OK with this, is I'm really proud of coming here with this hat on, this uniform.
"And that takes nothing away from the eight years I was here. It makes it easier to look back on some of the fonder memories, and now you start new ones in another place. And that's kind of how I feel."
Lots of those "fonder memories" came with one of Tito's favorites, Dustin Pedroia. He too is looking forward to the game, but isn't getting too hyped over it either.
"It's another game," Pedroia said. "It'll be cool to see Tito over there and a lot of the guys, former teammates, that are over there and stuff. So it will be fun competing against them.
"I'm sure knowing [Francona] it's just another day. I know this place is very special to him, but I'm sure he just wants to go out there and manage the game and see a baseball game."
Francona took a year off to work with ESPN as a baseball analyst after he was fired as manager of the Red Sox after the 2011 season. He credits that decision to step away from the managing aspect of the game to clearing his head and getting rid of the pain he felt over the way things ended in Boston.
"Yes, [time away helped]. And you know what, that'll probably never change, that I wish the ending would have been different.," Francona said. "That's not the way I would have written it. I don't think I'll ever change my feelings about that. But I also don't wake up in the morning [upset]. I had my time. We all do. You got to get through it, move on. Again, being here has had a huge help in that for me."
And tonight Francona will line up alongside his new team, and hear his name announced over the Fenway Park loudspeakers as manager of the Cleveland Indians. So, how should the crowd respond?
"I'm sure it'll be a huge ovation," Pedroia said. "Everyone loved him here, what he did here for a long time. So, he's a pretty important part of the history of this organization."