Francona: Sox-Indians 'not just another series'

Francona: Sox-Indians 'not just another series'
April 16, 2013, 6:15 pm
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CLEVELAND -- Terry Francona wasn't trying to kid anyone.
"Shoot, it's not just another series," he said as he prepared to manage his new team, the Cleveland Indians, against the Red Sox, his former team Tuesday night at Progressive Field. "I'd be [lying if I said otherwise]. But at the same time, it's not like I woke up this morning and that's all I thought about.
"The idea is to beat them. And if we do, good."
Still, Francona emphasized that, particularly after a year out of uniform, he was ready to compete against some of the same players whom he once managed.
"No, it's okay," he said. "I had a year removed. We're not in Boston. I had eight mostly eight good years [in Boston]; I don't think I would have scripted the end the way it was, but that's [over]. You move on. Sometimes it's time to move on. And I'm really happy where I'm at and I think it's unfair to the [Indians] players for me to have Nostalgia Week. Our job is to beat them. And it is 'them'.
"It doesn't take anything away from the people that I'm close to. There's a lot of them. But I like where I'm at; I think [the Red Sox] like where they're at. So everything's pretty good."
Francona touched base with some Sox players Tuesday afternoon, visiting with favorite foil, Dustin Pedroia.
"He didn't get any better looking," joked Francona. "Neither did I."
Pedroia joked that now that Francona is out of the ESPN broadcast booth, he can once again watch Sunday Night Baseball without muting the audio.
"I agree with him," said Francona, smiling. "I think I'm where I belong [in the dugout]."
Francona said he and Red Sox manager John Farrell -- who served as Francona's pitching coach for four years -- are in contact.
"It gets harder once the season starts," he said, "because you start going and you get so pigeon-holed with what you're doing, you have tunnel vision. But I think I said the day I got hired, the glass became half-full. And I still believe that. But I still hope for the next three days, everything that can go wrong for them, does.
"But he's one of my best friends -- not just in baseball, but in life. And they made a good hire."
Farrell was equally effusive in his praise for Francona.
"He's a very close friend," said Farrell, "a guy who was a huge help to me personally in a number of different ways, a former teammate. But a guy I care a lot about. I'm looking forward to going up against his team in this series."
Francona also knows full well that the emotions will be stronger when the Indians visit Boston for a four-game series at the end of next month.
"I do feel it will be harder to go to Boston for me," he said. "I'm sure when we go back to Fenway, it will bring back a lot of special memories and a lot of thoughts. But we're in Cleveland and this is my home and we're the home team."