FORT MYERS, Fla. -- And, of course, Terry Francona could not come to town without having a good story attached.
This one involved Francona running out of gas on I-75 short of his exit in the Fort on Tuesday night while in the company of two of his ESPN colleagues, play-by-play man Dan Shulman and news editor Claire Smith.
“When I said I was out of gas I think they thought I meant I was tired,’’ Francona said Wednesday. “Me and Dan Shulman are pushing Claire Smith on down 75. It was not good.
“Finally we couldn’t push any farther. I walked into a gas station, and some guy rolled down his window. It was the guy who installed my cable at the old ballpark. He gave me a ride and I paid for his drinking the rest of the night.’’
Part of the problem, Francona said, was that he got lost looking for the restaurant they were planning to rendezvous with some former Sox employees -- a place he knew well from eight years spent here.
Francona was doing a live interview on WEEI some years ago during spring training when his car was rear-ended.
The former Sox manager, here as part of the "Sunday Night Baseball" team broadcasting Thursday night’s game, wasn’t planning to visit the clubhouse Wednesday afternoon, but was greeted by many of his former players.
Darnell McDonald came over and embraced. David Ortiz applied a bear hug from behind. “Don’t sweat on me,’’ Francona cracked. “Hey Peewee,’’ he shouted at Dustin Pedroia. “What are you talking to those guys [media] for?’’ Pedroia shot back. “You’re one of them now.’’
McDonald later tweeted: "Good to see Tito! I know gas prices are high but don't be afraid to stop and spend some of that money!''