Terry Francona Returns To Red Sox -- As A Baseball Analyst For ESPN
ESPN baseball analyst Terry Francona said that he took a job with the net to keep "his foot in the game after a hectic offseason that followed eight seasons" managing the Red Sox, according to Nick Cafardo of the BOSTON GLOBE. Francona acknowledged calling his first Red Sox game Thursday night for the team's Spring Training matchup against the Yankees was "a little awkward." But he said, "I'm just trying to do the best I can." He also said that he "doesn’t plan to be too critical in his new role." Francona: "There’s a way to say what’s going on. You don’t have to be a bad person. I’ll be myself." As for his managerial career, Francona said that he "probably needs to take a step back before he can go forward." He said, "My passion is being on the field. But I think it would be really healthy for me to step back and look at things without so much emotion. I was pretty worn down by the end of last year" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/23). Francona said, "I didn't particularly like the way my tenure ended. That doesn't mean it's not going to be really fun to see a lot of people tomorrow. At the same time, I got a job to do and I don't want it to be a side show. So I'll certainly be cognizant of the fact that there's a game to play" (BOSTON.com, 3/22). In Boston, Peter Abraham notes Francona is "still getting used to being a television analyst." But Francona said that "Sunday Night Baseball" host Dan Shulman "has made it easy for him" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/23).
STRAIGHT SHOOTER: ESPN Senior VP & Exec Producer Jed Drake said during a conference call when Francona works Red Sox games, he expects him to "be candid." Drake: "I expect him to give insight that will be exceptional and special because of his knowledge of these players and their strengths and weaknesses, and I expect that he's going to go right down the middle of this. ... We're all going to take this straight ahead. And while I understand -- and I appreciate the unique situation -- I helped manufacture it, if I dare may say." Drake said once former "Sunday Night Baseball" analyst Bobby Valentine left the net to manage the Red Sox, ESPN "sort of put on the full court press" to bring Francona into the booth. Drake: "I enlisted Jon Gruden's support to reach out to Terry, which he did" (THE DAILY).