Francona on Fenway return: 'You want to win bad'

Francona on Fenway return: 'You want to win bad'
June 12, 2014, 7:30 pm
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BOSTON -- Terry Francona returned to Fenway Park Thursday, the ballpark he called home for eight seasons.

The surroundings, of course, were familiar, but the experience wasn't quite as novel it was last year when, for the first time since being fired by the Red Sox following 2011, he returned as an opposing manager.

"It's probably different than the first time you come back,'' said Francona. "I had to maybe get some things out of the way before. Now, they're out of the way and we've got to try to win. Certainly, there are a lot of good memories from here and a lot of people I have fun saying hello to. But when the game starts, you want to win bad.

"Part of the reason I can be so comfortable coming back here is because of how comfortable where I'm at. That really helps me a lot.''

At every turn, Francona takes the opportunity to cite the positive working relationship he has with the Indians' front office and upper management.

That wasn't the case at the end of his stay in Boston, when Francona accused Red Sox ownership of leaking information as a way of justifying his firing.

As such, there's still some hard feelings between Francona, and, in particular, principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner.

"For the most part, it was a really good run,'' said Francona of his time in Boston. "The end wasn't very fun. I wouldn't have scripted it that way. I'm not sure we really have a choice very often. But I don't wake up in the morning bitter or anything like that. I won't forget, but you've got to move on. It's not healthy not to.

"I had a period where it was still a little raw. But you move on. You have to; it's not a good way to go about things.''

Earlier in the day, in an interview on WEEI Radio, Francona acknowledged some hard feelings still exist.

Francona said he's spoken with team president Larry Lucchino, but his interaction with the troika that runs the Red Sox ends there.

"The other two guys, I haven't spoken to and don't know that I ever will," said Francona. "Just being totally honest. We all make mistakes, and I certainly did. Going through that last September, as bad as we did, as a manager, you need to be held accountable for that. I think I was wide open for criticism because of the way we played. I just didn't appreciate that someone went out of their way to hurt me. That will forever stay with me."

Asked if he could ever seen some mending of fences with Henry and Werner, Francona said: "I don't think about that. That's not really what we're here for.

We're here for us and I don't want to shortchange (the Indians). I don't know that that's really a front-burner thing. Whatever happened, happened. You kind of move on.''

Of course, Red Sox manager John Farrell remains a close friend and after Francona got through the initial disappointment of losing in the wild card round last October, rooted for his one-time teammate and former pitching coach to run the table.

More recently, he was touched when Farrell asked him to be part of his coaching staff for next month's All-Star Game.

"That was actually one of the most special things that's ever happened to me in this game,'' said Francona, "and I've been blessed to have a lot of good things happen. I hadn't thought of it and when he hit me with it, I was shocked. But it took me about 10 seconds to say, 'Yes.' I was tremendously honored.''