Francona: No big surprises in book

BOSTON -- The much-anticipated book co-written by former Red Sox manager Terry Francona is set to hit bookshelves on Jan. 22.

“Francona: The Red Sox Years,” co-authored by Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, is a first-hand account of the former manager’s eight years in Boston. Sports Illustrated released excerpts of the book on Tuesday that cast Red Sox ownership in an unfavorable light.

In a conversation with ESPNBoston.com, Francona said the excerpts make the characterization sound worse than it really is, saying when people read the book they'll understand the portrayal of ownership is not as harsh as it may seem.

The final chapter of the book describes the last month of the 2011 season, in which the Red Sox went 7-20 and lost a playoff berth on the final day of the regular season.

“The last chapter is hard because it was a hard ending,” Francona said. “I’m sure there will be a thing or two that will piss somebody off that I didn’t think would, but I’ve read it seven times and me and Dan made change after change because I wanted it to be good, I wanted it to be interesting and I also wanted it to preserve the clubhouse because I do believe in that so much.”

Francona, who is scheduled to receive an award for long and meritorious service to baseball at the Boston baseball writers dinner on Jan. 24, said there are no major surprises in the book.

“I don’t think so,” Francona said. “There’s some Manny [Ramirez] stuff that probably everybody pretty much knows, like my feelings when he hit [traveling secretary] Jack [McCormick] and knocked Jack down, may be a little more extensive. But mostly everything, anything that was at all critical, or like one part that me and David [Ortiz] got into it, I made sure Dan talked to those guys. David one time didn’t run a ball out and we got into it at Yankee Stadium, and I don’t think anybody ever knew about it.

“Dan went to David so we could use it. It doesn’t come out bad, it just kind of shows how you kind of fight through some stuff.”

At first, Francona said he was reluctant to write the book, but then decided people would enjoy reading about his time as Red Sox manager. There are stories that will make you both laugh and cry, he says.

“When Dan first approached me, I was like, ‘No. And not with you.’ He kind of came back to me and got me to agree to lunch, I don’t know how the hell he did that. Then one thing led to another and we planned a practice session, maybe one chapter. Next thing you know, we’re in New York selling it and I’m running by his house picking him up in my car and driving to New York.

“I first thing I told him was, ‘Look, we’re making a pit stop because I’m getting my windows tinted.’”

“You know what’s funny, I don’t know if ‘pitted against each other’ is the right term, but our job descriptions weren’t necessarily on the same path. His is to poke fun at people and he’s good at it. But when I got to know him, I really liked him. We had a lot of fun. It was kind of cool. It was an eye-opener and it was an enjoyable process.”