By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON -- When he met with the media a little over an hour earlier on Friday evening, now-former Red Sox manager Terry Francona expressed his uncertainty in the degree of support he received from the teams ownership.
But, CEO Larry Lucchino and chairman Tom Werner, in a separate meeting with the media, expressed their surprise at those sentiments. (Principal owner John Henry was not in attendance, after suffering an injury on board his yacht in the afternoon.)
"I was actually puzzled by that comment, Lucchino said. We have done nothing differently this year than we have done in previous years. I think its a question you'd probably have to ask him. I thought he did an exceptional job in conveying the strength of his feelings and his frustrations and his fatigue with the situation here in Boston. But I must confess to being a little puzzled by about what was different this year from previous years.
Lucchino, Werner, Henry, general manager Theo Epstein, and assistant GM Ben Cherington met with Francona on Friday morning. Early Friday afternoon the Sox released a statement from Epstein saying there are no immediate plans for an announcement on Franconas future. By early evening that had all changed.
Francona said it was his decision to part ways with the team.
Just speaking for myself, said Werner, we came to this meeting today really wanting to hear Terrys point of view about what went right this year, what went wrong this year. And he expressed the feeling when we asked him that he felt that we did need a new voice. After that we tried to slow the train down a bit and just asked Terry to think about it over the weekend. But as he said in his press conference, I think he made up his mind and so thats how this was resolved."
Francona felt a change of culture was needed on the team and in the clubhouse, with Epstein asking Francona if he could be the person to bring about that change.
He said that he thought it was time to move on, Epstein said. He thought it was best for a new voice. Sometimes, he said, after youve done it for eight years, sometimes the players just need to hear a new voice. And I think it takes a lot of maturity and perspective to actually come to that conclusion.
I was disappointed. I think he was disappointed. But the reality is I think he felt that somebody else might do a better job of reaching the players and improving that clubhouse culture.
Asked how that culture can be changed now, with Franconas departure complete, Epstein replied:
I think some new leadership. I think that certain players we have that are leaders can step up and raise the level of their leadership even more. With a new manager its going to be an opportunity for new leadership in the clubhouse, too. I think we could have more accountability down there. We could, its our goal to have the best prepared team the best conditioned team, the team thats ready to go out, take advantage of the opponents' weaknesses, go out and play fearless baseball night in and night out.
I dont think we accomplished that across the board this year. So there are going to be some systemic changes in areas that we can make improvements. But it's also going to take some new leadership. A new leader whether its in the form of a player or a new manager will get people to follow him and will raise our level and meet those high standards that we have."
Now, the Sox must fill the managers job for the first time since 2004 the season in which they won the World Series for the first time in 86 years. Who that person will be remains to be seen.
I also think its premature to answer that question because we havent made any effort to sit down and list qualities, Lucchino said. We didnt anticipate at this point we were going to be in this exact position. We made no efforts to discuss alternatives at this point. So its not happened yet. But well sit down and have that discussion.
Franconas departure leaves the future of the coaching staff in question.
You always want to make sure the manager has ability to bring in some of his own guys, Epstein said. I told the coaches how much I appreciate their effort and theyre going to get my strong recommendation in many cases to the new manager, but that we cant have final resolution on the coaching staff until we get the new manager in place.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen