MILWAUKEE -- Although his name continues to be linked to the still-vacant managerial opening with the Chicago Cubs, former Red Sox manager Terry Francona has come to a realization.
"I'm not going to try to manage next year,'' said Francona by phone Wednesday, "for my benefit.''
Francona parted with the Red Sox two days after the season ended following a disastrous month of September which saw the team go 7-20 and blow a 9 12 game wild card lead on the final night of the year. Worse, the collapse was followed by a slew of stories detailing player behavior in the Boston clubhouse.
Francona interviewed for the St. Louis Cardinals' job last week, but the Cardinals hired former catcher Mike Matheny, who has no previous managerial experience, last week for the position.
"When I interviewed in St. Louis, I was genuinely excited about it,'' said Francona. "St. Louis was such an exciting opportunity. But we were all beaten up at the end of the year, and after (interviewing) I took a step back and began to look at things realistically.''
Theo Epstein's presence in Chicago as president of baseball operations has stirred recurring speculation that Epstein and Francona would re-unite. The two have kept up an
open dialogue, but Francona isn't a candidate for the Cubs' opening.
"I've talked to Theo numerous times,'' said Francona. "We both know each other well enough where we can can be honest with each other. I don't think it's the right opportunity.
"I need to take a step back and re-energize. That's probably in my best interest right now. In fairness to myself, it's the best thing to do.''
The 2012 season will mark the first time since 2001 that Francona hasn't been in uniform since his playing career ended and will be the first time he doesn't draw a paycheck from a team since coming out of college.
"I worked for Cleveland (in an off-field role as scout) in 2001 and it ended up being good for me,'' said Francona. "After a while, your perspective can get blurred. I think maybe this will be valuable (to take some time off).''
Instead, Francona may explore some broadcast opportunities. He's been contacted by representatives from Fox, ESPN and the MLB Network.
"I'm going to explore some things in broadcasting and see where it leads,'' he said. "It may be a way to stay in the game, enjoy it and also be able to step back and look at things.''
Francona filled in for Tim McCarver for the first two games of Fox's ALCS coverage and earned universal praise, prompting the interest from networks.
"That surprised me, because I was terrified,'' he said. "I'm not deluding myself, thinking I'm the next coming of John Madden. But I did enjoy it. We'll see. Baseball's what I know. Maybe there's a place out there that makes sense for me. I'd at least like to look.''
Having been around the game for 30 years, Francona has also heard from lots of friends in the game, with offers to get back into baseball in a non-managerial capacity. For now, however, he'd prefer to take some time off.
It will take a while, he knows, to adjust.
"I'm sure that will be really difficult for me,'' he said. "Not going to spring training will certainly be a huge void, but I guess I'm glad. I want to get myself re-energized and if and when an opportunity arises (to manage again), I'll be ready.''