Tito on Manny, Damon

March, 10, 2011
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- When Red Sox manager Terry Francona was asked about Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon, what he didn't say was as telling as what he did.

Francona was asked first about Ramirez, and what he imagined his experience in Tampa Bay would be like.

"I don’t know,'' he said. "That’s none of my business. I got my hands full managing this team. I don’t need to help Joe [Maddon, Rays manager].''

Well, then, what about Manny's experience in Boston?

"Well,'' Francona said, "we won a couple World Series. I would never say something three years removed that I didn't say three years ago. Everybody has ups and downs, and then it's time to move on, but we won with him.''

But when the topic switched to Damon, Francona held nothing back.

"One of my all-time favorites,'' he said. "One of the best guys you could ever have playing. As a manager, you can't appreciate him enough. There were days he got the [expletive] beat out of him, and he'd call me in morning and say don’t not play me, and show up. He understood his obligation to play center field even if he went 0 for 4.

"I was impressed with him. He's very dear to me. We loved him. Everybody who has been around him appreciates what he’s done.''

When someone suggested Francona must be happy to see him back in the AL East, he quickly rejected that notion.

"I wish he’d go somewhere else,'' he said. "We love him, but we don’t want to help these guys out too much. Same with Manny.''

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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