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Tito talks a little Theo, Showalter backs off

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Greetings from the Fort, where the fog is just burning off and temperatures are headed to a high of 85, which has not been uncommon in this unparalleled spring of consistently good weather. I'll do my best Carl Beane impression and note that meanwhile, the forecast for my hometown of Lunenburg is a high of 38. As Beane says daily on the PA at City of Palms, Aren't you glad you're here?

The Red Sox don't play until tonight, when they are scheduled to see former pitching coach John Farrell for the first time this spring. Manager Terry Francona said he has spoken with Farrell a number of times this spring, including one memorable morning when he put Dustin Pedroia on the phone. "[Farrell] made the mistake of asking, 'Who is this?' Pedey said, 'You'll [expletive] know who this is.''

Thursday, before the Red Sox lost a wind-blown, 15-7 affair to the Florida Marlins, Francona reflected on his first meeting with Theo Epstein, a topic inspired by the flap created by comments made to a magazine by Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who said he'd like to see how smart Theo would be if he had to work with Tampa bay's payroll instead of John W. Henry's checkbook. Showalter backed off that comment Thursday.

"Maybe it is envy or something on my part," Showalter said, according to the Baltimore Sun. "But obviously, you all know what I think of Derek and the success the Red Sox have had. Hopefully, we can get to their level one day.''

Francona handled the matter with a quip, saying Epstein's choice of managers demonstrated how smart he was. Epstein did not respond to a request for comment.

Francona also talked about interviewing for the Sox managing job after the 2003 season, saying he didn't know much about Epstein going into the interview. Francona, who had worked for the Indians, called Indians GM Mark Shapiro to get a line on Theo. ESPN Boston stringer Matt Porter, who was in Jupiter Thursday, related the piece of advice Shapiro offered, according to the manager.

"''Don't [mess] with him.' He goes, 'He'll turn you inside out,'" Francona said.

Francona had interviewed for the Orioles' job prior to sitting down with Epstein. "I was in there about 10 minutes," he said. "The first thing they said to me was, 'Well, we're keeping the entire coaching staff.' I said, 'It sounds to me like you just want to change the manager's name.' ... I should have walked out."

Francona said it felt odd to be wearing a tie to his interviews, and noted that he didn't bring a resume to either interview. He recalls preparing a resume just once in his life, but couldn't remember for what job. Interviewing for a job, he said, was hard.

"You go into those things, obviously you want to get a job, but my goal was always to come out of there saying what I felt,'' he said. "When you're not used to them, it's hard. Sometimes you come out of interviews feeling uncomfortable, or like, 'I didn't want to say that.' But I felt really good when I left [his interview with Epstein]."

As part of the process, Epstein had the managerial candidates subjected to a session with the media.

"I was wired,'' Francona said when it was mentioned how much energy he had at his session. "I had a lot of fun. They put me through the wringer, but it was good. It felt like it really meant something. They had prepared so much. I was like, 'let's go.'"

Thanks to Matt for passing this along. And on an unrelated note, check out Carl Crawford's diary with ESPN's Louise Cornetta here. Crawford has agreed to share his thoughts all season.