Tito's return: No cribbage, but a curtain call

CHICAGO -- Anything planned for Terry Francona upon his return to Fenway Park on Thursday night?

"Nothing," said Dustin Pedroia, the Sox second baseman and longtime Francona cribbage partner. "I got nothing."

Impressed by how well Francona's Indians are playing?

"Are they playing good?" Pedroia said. "We're about the Red Sox, man. That's it."

Um, OK. The Indians are in first place. How about that?

"Good. That's awesome."

David Ortiz was a bit more expansive about his former manager.

"I believe he's going to get a big ovation," Ortiz said. "I'm 100 percent sure. Tito, when he was our manager, he did a great job and it doesn't matter what happened afterward, he still got us to two World Series and that still is something that hasn't happened in a long time. People don't forget about that."

Asked how impressed he was by the Indians' being in first place, Ortiz replied: "Oh, they are?

"They're playing well, man. I mean, at least they have a manager who knows what he's doing, you know what I'm saying? That counts."

Hmm. Wonder whom Ortiz might have been alluding to there indirectly. Very doubtful it was a shot at Cleveland's manager last year, Manny Acta.

Red Sox manager John Farrell reiterated he expects Francona to receive a hero's welcome.

"I think it will be a special day when the series kicks off tomorrow," Farrell said. "I would fully expect he'd get a great welcome and a great ovation and deservedly so. That was eight incredible years that he spent [in Boston]."