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BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Red Sox have invited every living player and manager who’s ever donned a uniform for the local nine to the 100th birthday celebration of Fenway Park, a list that quite obviously includes former skipper Terry Francona.
Francona, however, won’t be going.
After parting ways with the team last September, after a historic collapse that saw the Sox go 7-20 in the season’s final month and miss out on the playoffs, The Boston Globe ran a story by Bob Hohler that, among other things, depicted Francona as a frequent user of pain medication. The story also said that Francona was “distracted” by marital and health problems.
Francona told the Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy that even though he doesn’t know who exactly was behind the release of that information, he’s not ready to forgive the team just yet.
“Somebody went out of their way to make me look pretty bad,’’ Francona told Shaughnessy. “It’s a shame. I’m sure they’ll have a great event … but I just can’t go back there and start hugging people and stuff without feeling a little bit hypocritical.’’
Francona told Shaughnessy that Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino tried to smooth things over, but it didn’t work out too well.
“He called me back and we ended up getting into an argument,” Francona said of Lucchino. “I just feel like someone in the organization went out of their way to hurt me and the more we talked I realized we’re just not on the same wavelength. They’re probably better off going forth and leaving me out of it.’’
Francona told Shaughnessy that Lucchino told him that he had not spoken to principal owner John Henry about the story. Francona said he believes the organization owed it to him to “get to the bottom of it.”
In his eight years as Red Sox manager, Francona 744-552, making the playoffs five times and winning two World Series. He is just the second manager in the Sox’ long history to win two World Series titles, and he’s second in franchise history in wins and winning percentage.
His rift with Lucchino — at least publicly — dates back to the end of September, when Francona told reporters that the decision for him to leave the team was his own, but that, ”To be honest with you, I didn’t know, or I’m not sure, how much support there was from ownership.”
That comment didn’t sit well with Lucchino, who told reporters a few hours later at a separate news conference, ”I was actually puzzled by that comment. We have done nothing differently this year as we have done in previous years. … I thought he did an exceptional job conveying the strength of his feelings and his frustration and his fatigue with the situation here in Boston. But I must confess to be a little puzzled what was different this year from previous years.”
Francona also told the Boston Herald in February that he had called Henry seven or eight times but had yet to receive a call back. Henry then called Francona, but the former manager admitted prior to a Sox spring training game last month that “it was probably five months too late.”
Francona also admitted the Globe story “hurt me a lot, and it probably always will.”
Francona stressed to Shaughnessy that “it’s not a vendetta,” but that he just doesn’t feel comfortable returning to Fenway, given the circumstances.
“Until I’m more comfortable with some answers on what happened at the end of the year, I don’t want to have much to do with the organization and that’s a shame,’’ Francona told Shaughnessy. “With all the good things that were accomplished, I just feel pretty strongly about that.”