BOSTON (CBS) – Terry Francona will return to Fenway Park on Thursday night, but this time he’ll be in visitors’ dugout for the first time.
Francona and his first-place Cleveland Indians open a four-game set with the Red Sox on Thursday night, Francona’s first time back as an opposing manager after spending eight years in the Boston dugout.
“If I said that I wasn’t going to have some emotion tonight I’d be lying,” Francona told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Gresh & Zolak on Thursday. “I don’t know what it’s going to be. The thing I’m trying to guard against is, the game is hard enough to play and I don’t want to make it harder on my players.”
“Who knows what is going to pop into my mind (when I first take the field),” Francona joked. “I hope what comes into my mind are happy memories, because there were a lot of good times here. It’s a hard job — it’s a great job but it’s a hard job and it takes a toll on you. It did on me. Being away for a year helps and it eases some of the memories that aren’t so good.”
“Coming back with the Indians, now I can look over there and one of my best friends is the manager, so I know they’re in a great place,” Francona said of the Red Sox. “There are a lot of people here I care about a lot. And I’m in a great place; I’m proud to be coming back here as a member of the Indians, so I think it works for everybody.”
“I love this group I’m with,” Tito said of his new job.
Francona said he hasn’t paid too much attention to the Red Sox as he and the Indians grow as a team. But he’s not surprised with the success his former team is having with John Farrell in charge.
“I think what’s going on now, and I said this when Farrell got hired, the glass was immediately half full. What I mean is guys like Pedroia, Buchholz and Ellsbury, there was immediate buy-in because of their respect for John,” said Francona. “I actually thought they were going to be better than people were saying, and now the way they are playing proves that.”
Read: Red Sox-Indians Preview
Francona mentioned all the fun he is having in Cleveland, which includes the team putting together their own Harlem Shake video back in March. It wasn’t something Francona was on board with at first, but was happy to look a little foolish in if it helped the team grow.
“When (Nick Swisher) came in I had no idea what he was talking about. He said we have to do this, so we talked about it for a couple days and I wasn’t very excited about it,” explained Francona. “I love the idea of team building stuff, so I figured if everyone does it and it’s not half-assed, ok I’ll get up and make an idiot of myself. I’ll tell you, doing that at 8:30 in the morning without alcohol wasn’t easy.”