Terry Francona denied a report in the Boston Globe in which Red Sox sources said personal problems, including his use of painkillers in dealing with numerous surgeries over the years, affected his performance as manager in 2011.
I went and saw the proper people and it was not an issue," Francona said of his use of pain medication, which he needed for multiple knee operations. Francona also underwent a hip replacement in recent years, and was seriously ill with a staph infection before becoming manager of the Sox. It never became an issue, and anybody who knew what was going on knows that."
Sources also said Francona "appeared distracted" by the breakup of his marriage -- he and wife Jacque separated after 30 years -- and the fact that both his son, Nick, and son-in-law, Michael Rice, are serving as officers with the Marines in Afghanistan.
Francona denied those accusations, as well.
It makes me angry that people say these things because Ive busted my butt to be the best manager I can be, Francona said. I wasnt terribly successful this year, but I worked harder and spent more time at the ballpark this year than I ever did."
The issues with Francona were part of a report on the breakdown of the 2011 Sox, which included reports that . . .
Starting pitchers Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Jon Lester, sometimes joined by Clay Buchholz, would not only drink beer in the clubhouse during games when they weren't pitching, but also ate fast-food fried chicken and played video games. They also got out of shape by not following the program of strength-and-conditioning coach Dave Page, which may have led to their miserable performances in September.
Other players also "cut back on their exercise regimens despite appeals from" Page.
Veteran players who had been leaders in the past, such as David Ortiz and Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek, shrunk from those roles in 2011. Wakefield (who appeared fixated on both 200 career wins and on breaking the franchise victory record) and Ortiz (who once interrupted a Francona press conference with a profane complaint about a scoring decision that cost him an RBI, and who appeared to second-guess Francona publicly late in the year about putting Alfredo Aceves in the starting rotation) seemed particularly self-oriented in '11, though Ortiz at one point in September did call a players-only meeting to attempt to salvage the season.
Newcomers such as Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford showed little in the way of leadership skills.
Kevin Youkilis "grew more detached and short-tempered" as his season became derailed by injuries.
You never heard any of these complaints when we were going 80-41 from April 15 to Aug. 27 because there was nothing there," Francona said. But we absolutely stunk in the last month, so now we have to deal with a lot of this stuff because expectations were so high."
Most of the players mentioned in the story either declined comment, or didn't respond to requests for comment. One of those who did was second baseman Dustin Pedroia, described by team sources in the story as one of the "few . . . players who appeared to remain fully committed to winning" during the September collapse.
We have to hold ourselves more accountable, Pedroia said. That has nothing to do with the manager or coaches. On the great major league teams, players police each other, so well get back to doing that.