Francona: Ortiz knows I care about him

PHILADELPHIA -- Red Sox manager Terry Francona said he's not concerned with the comments David Ortiz made during a radio interview on Thursday.

The Sox's slugger was a guest on WEEI's Big Show and said he was upset with Francona for removing him from the lineup for a pinch hitter on April 27 in Toronto.

"I was mad. I was absolutely mad," Ortiz said during the interview. "If you ride with me, you're going to get two things. Either you're going to win or you're going to die with me.

"That's the way it is, that's the way it's been as long as I've been here. ... You gotta believe in your players. Period. You choose to have me on your roster since Day 1. You gotta ride with me."

During his pregame scrum with the media Friday afternoon in his office at Citizens Bank Park, Francona said he and Ortiz have talked about the situation and that their relationship is intact.

"He's hasn't always liked what I've told him, but I think he knows that I care about him," said Francona. "Every player is supposed to feel that way. That's the idea and I don't care who it is.

"You don't take the time for granted, you keep working at it," added Francona. "That's the only way it works. Sometimes you're presented with challenges. That's the way this game is.

"I think with any time you're in my position, you have to tell people things they don't want to hear. That's just the way the game is. Not that things don't happen, but how you work through them is more important and I feel OK about that part."

Francona said he would rather talk in general terms about dealing with off-field housekeeping matters than be specific about one player's situation.

"I stand by what I've always said, that my job is to believe in our players -- not one but 25," Francona said. "I try to do that as consistently as I can and I don't think that will ever change. Just like we ask the players, you try to do your job the best you can. It doesn't mean you're perfect. You try to do the best you can, do what you think is right, communicate it and move on. I don't think that will ever change."

Francona took issue with an ESPN.com report, which cited sources within the organization, that Ortiz had left the Rogers Centre during the game in which he was lifted for a pinch hitter.

"Somebody is reporting something that's not true, so I shouldn't have to deal with that, but I did because [Ortiz] is hurt [by the report]," Francona explained.

It's very likely Ortiz could be the Player of the Month for May as he enters the interleague series this weekend against the Phillies with a .358 average, including seven homers and 17 RBIs in 14 games. He was not in the starting lineup Friday night, but Francona did say Ortiz has been taking ground balls at first base and he will play the field in one of the games this weekend.

When asked how he was feeling Friday afternoon, Ortiz smiled and said: "I'm just gonna do what Pedroia does, Laser Show."

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins and Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.