Francona: 'Time for a new voice'

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Francona: 'Time for a new voice'

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON -- At 1:25 Friday afternoon, the Red Sox released a statement from general manager Theo Epstein saying there are no immediate plans for an announcement regarding the future of manager Terry Francona with the team.

Just a few hours later, that had all changed. Francona and the Sox were going their separate ways.

In an evening press conference, Francona confirmed it was his decision to leave the Sox after eight seasons as the manager. Franconas contract was up after this season, with two option years at 4.25 million for 2012 and 4.5 million for 2103. The Sox never exercised the options.

The last month has been pretty tough, Francona said. I think, as anybody thats been around the club knows, I had been talking to Theo probably more than people realize. And we had agreed -- Theo and I talked a bunch like I said. We agreed to talk Friday morning with ownership and I just felt like . . . I think its time for a new voice here. I was frustrated with some of my inabilities to get some things done here. After talking to ownership and Theo at length multiple times, I think its the right thing to do for the organization and myself.

Francona cited as the primary reason for his decision, his inability to reach maybe guys that Ive been able to in the past or affect the outcome a little bit differently and that bothers me.

Another reason was that he didnt feel that he had the full support of ownership.

To be honest with you, I didnt know or Im not sure how much support there was from ownership. he said. And I dont know that I felt real comfortable. You got to be all in in this job. And I voiced that today, that there were some things that maybe I, going through things here to make it work, its got to be everybody together. I was questioning some of that a little bit.

I didnt feel like I was a lame duck. I had made an agreement with them that I wouldnt talk about my contract and I didnt. Saying that, I think everybody would like to have their, I think it wouldve made it easier. But I didnt feel like a lame duck. I wouldnt have done anything different if I had guaranteed money or not.

Francona led the Sox to two World Series championships, including its first in 86 years in 2004. But, he acknowledged eight years of managing in the cauldron of Boston sports can be trying.

Thats probably whats part of so special about Boston, he said. What we accomplished was incredible. Some of the tougher moments are really tough. I wouldn't change it. I feel like Im a better person because i was here. Met some unbelievable, made unbelievable friends, people Ive worked with. I have a lot of respect for that. But it is a tough place to be the manager.

The last month of the season, when the team went 7-20 while issues in the clubhouse became exposed, brought him to his decision.

Obviously the first week of the season was difficult, he said. But actually thought we did a good job of getting to the players. Theo spoke to the group, and I did, and we made some adjustments and we started paying attention to detail, and I thought we really did a good job. This last month I thought some of the things, when things go bad your true colors show and I was bothered by what was showing. And, it was my responsibility, like I said.

Asked if he felt some players had let him down, Francona replied.

Actually I feel I let a lot of people down. Walking out of the clubhouse in Baltimore the other night that was the one thing I told Theo was I felt like I let them down. Its my responsibility to get this done and it didnt happen. And I take responsibility for that.

It had been reported that some players who were not in the games had been drinking in the clubhouse while games were going on. Francona deferred directly addressing that issue.

I would say that i think Id rather talk about generalities, he said. I'd never single out a player or an event. I wouldn't do that. Think Ive been pretty open about that I was frustrated and that I couldnt reach some of the things that I thought needed to be reached. But would never single out players or anything like that. Thats not my style now nor will ever be.

But he did say that he did not think the players were loyal enough to each other. It was an issue for which he had no answer.

Thats the big question and thats what I was beating my head against so much because I didnt feel like, I talk so much about the players didnt have to go out to dinner together, but they need to be fiercely loyal to each other on the field and I didnt always get that feeling, he said. And it bothered me because I thought ok, if were going to get where were going, we better do some things a little bit better. As we got nicked up it didnt mean we couldnt win, but our margin for error got less. So there were some things that again I was frustrated with.

Francona endorsed bench coach DeMarlo Hale as the next manager. Hale has interviewed for several managerial positions, including those of the Blue Jays and Mets last season.

I think, I hope he gets serious consideration," Francona said. If not here, somewhere else because I think he is a tremendous manager-in-waiting. He is a tremendous friend. We talked about this last night, I hope he, hell manage somewhere and hell be very good.

Francona is not sure what is next for him, but he would like to stay in baseball.

I always said when came here if i thought it was time to go, I would go and I think its time, he said. Its not easy and I know itll hurt me a lot but I think its the right time.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Drellich: Sale may be Red Sox' most electrifying pitcher since Pedro

Drellich: Sale may be Red Sox' most electrifying pitcher since Pedro

The newest lefty ace can succeed where David Price did not.

Chris Sale might be the most electrifying pitcher the Red Sox have had since Pedro Martinez.

Josh Beckett had his moments. Jon Lester was steadily excellent.

But the stuff Sale brings is a step above.

A spaghetti-limbed motion and a fast pace. The ability to throw any pitch in any count, something said of many pitchers, but noted here without exaggeration. A delivery that disguises each pitch as another until there’s no time to react.

MORE ON CHRIS SALE

There's been a lot of talk about how competitive Sale is. That's great.

Let's acknowledge how filthy he is before going crazy about the intangibles. He carves hitters better than he does jerseys.

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has made some questionable moves, but he deserves some optimism here. Some early praise, even -- no matter how well Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, the best prospects he gave the White Sox for Sale, are faring this spring.

Where Dombrowski failed with Price thus far, he may succeed immediately with Sale.

Yes, Sale's 10-strikeout performance against the Yankees on Tuesday night was just a spring training game. But he was dominant to the point that a Grapefruit League game was actually made interesting.

Must-watch, even.

“You guys saw,” Sale told reporters in Florida. “Just felt good.”

All three pitches were working for Sale, the fastball, slider and changeup, and the variants thereof.

“I've been working on my changeup a little bit more the last couple of outings,” Sale said. “My last time out it wasn't great, but just working on it in between starts, just throwing it on the flat ground, it's a pitch that doesn't take a whole lot of stress on your arm. So even when you're just playing catch, you can flip it around, work on grips, things like that.

"As far as my slider, I feel good about it. . . . Obviously when I'm throwing harder, I think it's a little bit flatter. When I take some off of it, not only do I have a little bit more control, but I think it has a little bit more depth. Plus, it kind of creates another pitch in there. It's like an in-between fastball-changeup type of thing. Anything to give them a different look or try to throw them off. That’s kind of the name of pitching."

American League Rookie of the Year runner-up Gary Sanchez was miles in front of the 2-and-2 changeup he swung over in the first inning. Matt Holliday was frozen by a slider at the belt on the inner half.

Chris Carter, he of 40-home run power, was beat by a 2-and-2 fastball an inning later, clearly thinking off speed and unable to decipher just what was coming in time.

Aaron Hicks tried to golf an 0-and-2 slider by flinging his bat into the stands, somewhere behind the third-base dugout.

That’s just the first two innings.

"He added his third pitch more this evening than five days ago, when it was more fastball-changeup," manager John Farrell said. "He had his breaking ball to both sides of the plate, and got underneath to some right-handed swings. And any time he needs to, he's got such good feel for the changeup to get him back in counts to give him a different look. He was impressive."

Opening Day at Fenway Park will be exciting. But Game No. 2, when Sale is to make his Sox debut, should bring the most intrigue.

Chris Sale dominant again in Red Sox' win vs. Yankees

Chris Sale dominant again in Red Sox' win vs. Yankees

By Pat Bradley, CSN Staff

Chris Sale was treating this like a regular season game, and delivered an excellent, midseason performance.

The Boston Red Sox got a taste Tuesday of the star pitcher they acquired last offseason, when Sale dominated the New York Yankees in a 4-2 spring training road win in Tampa, Florida.

Sale, who entered the game having thrown 63 of his 68 spring pitches for strikes (92%), continued to show off his incredible command, throwing 58 of his 86 pitches for strikes (67%) in the victory.

The 27-year-old struck out five of the first six Yankees he faced, and finished with an even 10 strikeouts on the night. He’s now struck out 20 batters to just one walk this spring.

"Obviously, anybody who knows anything about sports knows about Boston and New York," Sale said, via The Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Coming in here, playing against the Yankees, playing at their park in a night game, it gives it more of a regular-season feel. That's what we're here for. Anytime you can get that much closer to a regular-season game, the better off we're going to be."

His single blemish came on a 2-2 pitch to Yankees designated hitter and noted masher Matt Holliday, who sent the ball sailing to the opposite field for a two-run home run that at the time tied the score at 2.

Sale quickly regrouped, lining out Chris Carter to left field on his very next pitch to end his outing. His final line: two runs on four hits with 10 strikeouts and a hit batsman in six innings on 86 pitches.

That’s quite a debut to the rivalry, and something the Red Sox are well aware could become a regular thing.

“I don't want to say tonight is the norm,” began Red Sox manager John Farrell, via The Providence Journal, “but certainly he is very capable of doing that every time he walks to the mound.”

Sale wasn’t the only one strutting his stuff on Tuesday, though. Youngsters Marco Hernandez and Sam Travis continued to hit and were pivotal parts of a Red Sox offense that pounded out 13 hits.

After Mike Miller opened the scoring with a solo homer for Boston in the third inning, Travis kept things rolling a few batters later when his base hit scored Hernandez.

Travis was back at it again in the seventh inning, when his groundout scored Heiker Meneses for what proved to be the game-winning run.

Hernandez and Travis each finished 2-for-4, with Hernandez tripling (his fifth of the spring) and scoring a run and Travis driving in two runs of his own. They raised their spring averages to .422 and .351, respectively.

Every member of the starting lineup -- which did not feature regulars Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval or Xander Bogaerts -- recorded at least one hit, save for Jackie Bradley Jr., who went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts out of the cleanup spot.

Boston is back in action Thursday with a 1:05 p.m. start against the Pittsburgh Pirates.