Francona: 'Time for a new voice'


Francona: 'Time for a new voice'

By Maureen Mullen 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

MLB ump saves woman attempting to jump from Pittsburgh bridge


MLB ump saves woman attempting to jump from Pittsburgh bridge

PITTSBURGH -- John Tumpane can't explain why he approached the woman as she hopped over the railing of the Roberto Clemente Bridge on Wednesday afternoon.

The woman told Tumpane she just wanted to get a better view of the Allegheny River below. The look on her face and the tone of her voice suggested otherwise to Tumpane, a major league baseball umpire in town to work the series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Tampa Bay Rays.

So the 34-year-old Tumpane reached for the woman even as she urged him to let her go.

"It was just pure instinct," Tumpane said . "You hear kind of stories of this all the time, different scenarios, people aiding and situation where I was lucky enough to be there to help and try to think of everything I could do, hanging on to her. At times she wanted to go the other way. I was like, 'not on my watch, please.' We were just hanging on."

And saving a life.

Tumpane secured one of her arms. A bystander walked up and grabbed the other while another -- Mike Weinman, an employee for the Rays -- clutched her legs and pinned them to the railing while Tumpane mouthed to someone in the crowd to call 911.

What followed were chaotic moments of panic, fear and ultimately, grace.

"I couldn't tell you how long we were waiting for everyone else to get in place," Tumpane said. 'Obviously another power comes into be when you're hanging on and you know what the alternative is of you letting go and not having other people to help you."

Tumpane, Weinman and the third volunteer clung to the unidentified woman until emergency responders arrived. A police boat raced up the river to the iconic yellow bridge named for the Pirates Hall of Famer who died on Dec. 31, 1972, when a plane making humanitarian deliveries to earthquake victims in Nicaragua crashed. Now, 45 years later a crowd thrust together by fate brought a complete stranger back from the brink. Together.

"Once they were able to secure her, we were able to talk her back to help us out and we got her back on this side," Tumpane said. "After that I went up to her, she said, 'You'll just forget me after this' and I said, 'No, I'll never forget you.' This was an unbelievable day and I'm glad to say she can have another day with us and I'm glad I was in the right place at the right time."

Tumpane, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs, got into umpiring as a teenager, made his major-league debut in 2012 and received his full-time MLB commission in 2016, stressed he's no hero.

"I just happened to be there," he said. "I think I've been a caring person in my life. I saw somebody in need, and it looked like a situation to obviously insert myself and help out."

The aftermath was a bit surreal. After the woman was taken away, Tumpane called his wife, his arms still shaking.

"Not too many times you call your wife and say you helped save somebody's life," he said. "A really special moment."

One that stayed with him even as he prepared to call balls and strikes behind home plate Wednesday night. During breaks in the action his eyes would drift to the bridge just a few hundred feet behind the center field wall at PNC Park.

"It's also hard when you stand back behind home plate and look and you see the bridge in the distance, In between innings and whatnot, just thinking of how things could have maybe been," he said. "Glad it was this way."

Tumpane has no experience in crisis management or suicide prevention. He's spent 16 years living the nomadic life of an umpire. Asked what was going through his head while he tried to coax the woman back to safety, Tumpane just shrugged his shoulders. How do you explain the unexplainable?

"I happened to be in the right spot at the right time," he said. "Tried to be as comforting as I could and talk her through it. Thankfully that was the outcome."