Francona thrilled with 2011 potential

BOSTON -- There’s no denying the fact that Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona wishes spring training would start tomorrow.

After a devastating end to the 2010 season in which the Sox failed to reach the postseason, general manager Theo Epstein produced one heck of an offseason. The Sox acquired Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler.

“Theo should be commended for what he did this winter,” Francona said. “We’re going into this season with a lot of excitement, and there should be. Our organization has done a lot of good things.”

The veteran Red Sox players who were injured last summer are all healthy, and once the calendar turned to January, spring training is around the corner.

The Red Sox held their annual Rookie Development Camp the past two weeks and veteran players returned to Boston for medical examinations. On Thursday, the 72nd annual Boston Baseball Writers’ Dinner took place at the Westin Copley Hotel with Francona, Tim Wakefield, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, Ryan Kalish and Darnell McDonald in attendance.

They all have the bug and can’t wait for camp.

“It’s an exciting time,” Francona said.

Francona has spent the winter doing his usual routine in preparation for spring training. He studies all the player reports and statistical trends. He’ll spend a lot of time learning about the younger players coming to camp.

Francona has met and talked with his new pitching coach Curt Young numerous times so that when pitchers and catchers report, everyone is on the same page. Francona will meet with the rest of his staff soon to make sure that once everyone arrives in Fort Myers, Fla., everything flows smoothly and there’s no time wasted.

“We have a legitimate reason to be excited,” Francona said.