TORONTO -- When the Red Sox face the Yankees on April 20, they will have a grand celebration to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park. The club is breaking out the welcome mat by inviting every ex-player and manager in team history.
One person you aren't going to see during the ceremony is the only living man who knows what it's like to manage the Red Sox to a World Series championship. For Terry Francona, who led Boston to titles in 2004 and '07, the wounds are simply too fresh following his exit from the club at the end of last season.
In particular, Francona remains stung by a Boston Globe article from October that, citing team sources, suggested his focus was impacted by marital problems and by his use of pain medication.
"Somebody went out of their way to make me look pretty bad," Francona told the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy. "It's a shame. I'm sure they'll have a great event and I was part of a lot of that stuff there, but I just can't go back there and start hugging people and stuff without feeling a little bit hypocritical."
According to Francona, Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino called him earlier this week to see if he would reconsider attending the event.
"Larry called me yesterday," Francona told The Globe. "I was in a phone store in Arizona. I had three people standing around me. I was at a little bit of a disadvantage. He got a little perturbed at me, telling me I was being unfair to them. I called him back last night and left him a message. He called me back and we ended up getting into an argument. 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 will be in Boston that weekend on assignment. In his role as an ESPN analyst, he will be in the broadcast booth for the Sunday night (April 22) contest against the Yankees.
"I thought there was some uncertainty as to whether he had actually gotten the invitation," Lucchino told The Globe. "He's going to be here on the 22nd for the Sunday night game, so I called him and invited him, and he declined. It was a sincere invitation for him to come back. He has an exalted place in our history and we were hoping it would be convenient and comfortable for him to come back, and we were hoping it would be."
Valentine looking forward to first game at Fens
TORONTO -- For the last four months, manager Bobby Valentine has accepted well-wishers who say something to the effect of, "Welcome to Boston."
On Friday, Valentine will finally be able to feel at home as he manages his first game at Fenway Park.
"I'm really looking forward to getting into Fenway and getting the fans on our side and seeing an apartment," Valentine said. "It's been a long time. We've been on the road a couple of months."
Valentine has managed plenty of games at Fenway in his career, both with the Rangers and Mets. But now he gets to see what an advantage it can be with that type of fan support every night.
"Totally," Valentine said. "I know the guys are [looking forward to it]. They love playing there. I'll be with them. I've been told a thousand times, 'Welcome to Boston.' I haven't really been in Boston yet, so it will be great to get to Boston."
Friday's contest against the Rays will mark the first time the Sox have played at Fenway since their epic collapse last September, which culminated at Camden Yards against the Orioles.
Due to a lot of the negative fallout from last year's swoon, it remains to be seen what type of reaction the Red Sox will receive from the Fenway faithful.
"Oh, I don't know," Valentine said. "I'm not smart enough to figure any of that stuff out."