Friday at Fenway: Waiting for Tito


Friday at Fenway: Waiting for Tito

By Maureen Mullen Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON With the Rays and Rangers preparing for the start of their ALDS in at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, and the Tigers and Yankees getting ready for theirs at Yankee Stadium in New York, the scene outside Fenway Park on Friday was quite different.

Helicopters hovered overhead. TV trucks lined the narrow side streets. Media members gathered at several of Fenways entrances. Fans and tourists congregated.

Out-of-state tourists stopped to ask reporters what was going on. TV reporters asked fans for their thoughts.

But the question on everyone's mind appears to remain unanswered. Was Terry Francona out after eight seasons as manager of the Red Sox?

Francona arrived at the park shortly before the 10 a.m. meeting with general manager Theo Epstein and ownership that would apparently decide his fate. But when Francona left Fenway at around noon, there was still no official word on his future.

Francona drove away from Fenway in his black Escalade, followed by bench coach DeMarlo Hale, principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner, all in separate vehicles. None stopped to talk to the media.

Francona returned to Fenway in the afternoon, but has not talked publicly.

But Epstein, whose own future with the team is also in question (his name has been in the mix for the Cubs vacant GM job), released a statement at 1:25 p.m.:

John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino, assistant GM Ben Cherington and I met with Terry Francona this morning at Fenway Park to exchange thoughts and information on the 2011 season and discuss areas for improvement going forward. We all plan on taking some time to process the thoughts expressed in the meeting. There are no immediate plans for an announcement.

It appears no decision has been made at least not one that is being made public on Franconas future.

At least it was a beautiful day for hanging around outside Fenway Park.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Sox hope to bring David Ortiz back to Boston for new role

Sox hope to bring David Ortiz back to Boston for new role

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- David Oritz’s time in Boston as a player is over. He continues to say there’s no Brett Favre-type comeback, no matter how many people ask him.

However, that doesn’t mean his time with the Red Sox is over.

Sam Kennedy, Tom Werner and Dave Dombrowski are heading down to the Dominican Republic to tour the team’s academy on the island to see what changes, if any, need to be made.

Ortiz will join them on those tours.

“He’s just a good guy to go to the Dominican with,” Kennedy said. “We thought it’d be great to catch up. Haven’t seen him since before the holidays.”

But the front office members intend to exchange more than just pleasantries and stories from the holiday season. One goal on the trip is to bring Ortiz back to the organization as an employee.

“Yeah that’s something on the agenda,” Kennedy said. “We’re gonna talk about what he may or may not want to do. He did say after the season let’s just talk in January. He was so overwhelmed and tired so it’s a good time to start those conversations.

“I know he has a lot of plans, broadcasting, a lot of businesses he’s involved with and we’ll see what he’s up to. But we hope to cement something so he’s a part of the organization.”

What role that is yet to be determined. Assuming he doesn’t pursue a broadcasting career.

“I truly don’t know what’s on his mind,” Kennedy said. “He’ll obviously be good at whatever he decides to do, but I would hope that we could create a role where he has influence in the baseball operations side, he has influence in marketing, as an ambassador. A lot of our alums we’ve found really enjoy working with young players. Pedro [Martinez] is a perfect example of that.

“So we’ll see what he’s interested in doing, but I have heard him talk about broadcasting in the past and I think he’d be great at it if he decides to do it.”

Swihart, Wright fully recovered for Red Sox' spring training

Swihart, Wright fully recovered for Red Sox' spring training

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- Dave Dombrowski told reporters at the Red Sox Winter Weekend at Foxwoods both Steven Wright and Blake Swihart are ready to go for spring training.

Wright suffered a shoulder injury from sliding back into second as a pinch runner against the Dodgers in August, ending his All-Star season far too soon. The knuckleballer went 13-6 with a 3.33 ERA in 24 starts last season.

“His shoulder has been feeling good,” Dombrowski said of Wright, who was not at the event due to a prior engagement. “He’s out there throwing, so he feels good.”

Swihart saw his season end even sooner than Wright, after spraining his left ankle June 4 tracking down a foul ball in left field near the wall at Fenway Park. He played in only 19 games last season. 

“[Swihart] said he feels great,” Dombrowski said. “He’s going right from here down to Florida and he said he’s ready to go.”

Swihart will move back to the catcher position for spring training, with his goal of winning the job over Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez. The ankle might’ve been a cause for concern had the Red Sox handled the situation differently, but by all accounts he’s OK to catch again.

“They tell me [there’s no reason for concern],” Dombrowski said. “I guess I’m really not knowledgeable to say that, but the doctors and trainers have told me no.

"That’s why they went and had the surgery because they felt the way the tendon kept slipping that [there was a] possibility it would bother him more. But after the surgery now, they feel there will not be any problems in that regard.”