Red Sox hire Francona as manager

BOSTON -- Four of the first dozen men to manage the Boston
Red Sox
led the team to a World Series title. In more than eight
decades since, twice as many and then some have tried and failed.

Now Terry Francona will give it a shot.

Francona has been hired as the next Red Sox manager, the team announced Thursday. He said he knew it was a perfect fit as soon as he came to
Boston to interview with general manager Theo Epstein.

"I went home knowing this was a place I wanted to end up,"
Francona said. "All of the things they seem to believe in --
communication, open and honest communication, the way you treat
people, their view on the game of baseball, it just seemed like a
terrific match.''

The ex-Philadelphia Phillies manager will join his former ace,
Curt Schilling, as they try to bring the Red Sox their first
championship since 1918.

"I'm thrilled Schill is here," Francona said. "He'll take the
ball every time and you have to wrestle it away from him."

The Red Sox also interviewed Los Angeles third-base coach Glenn
Hoffman, Anaheim bench coach Joe Maddon and Texas first-base coach
DeMarlo Hale. But Francona was established as an early
front-runner, and his hiring was delayed only by the team's pursuit
of Schilling.

Maddon said Wednesday night that
Epstein called him earlier in the day.

"He just told me it wasn't me," Maddon said in a telephone
interview. "We had a nice exchange and he was very complimentary
and I was the same to him. There's nothing to get upset about."

The Red Sox traded four players for Schilling last week, but the
deal was held up while they negotiated a contract extension with
the 37-year-old pitcher to get him to waive his no-trade clause.
They agreed Friday to a deal that will pay him $37.5 million over
the next three years, with an option for a fourth.

Schilling said one incentive for him to sign in Boston was word
that Francona was "a slam dunk" to be the new manager. Even so,
he made it clear that he did not make Francona's hiring a condition
of the deal, nor did the Red Sox promise it.

Francona, 44, managed Schilling in Philadelphia through four
losing seasons from 1997-2000 when the Phillies were a young team
trying to rebuild. In Boston, Francona will be expected to win

He spent the 2001 season as special assistant to baseball
operations for the Cleveland Indians and was bench coach for the
Texas Rangers in 2002. He was a bench coach for Oakland this season
when the A's blew a 2-0 lead in the first round of the playoffs,
losing three straight to the Red Sox.

"I know looking at this team from the other side that this
lineup is incredible," Francona said. "We had some pretty good
pitchers in Oakland, but it's hard to stop this team from
scoring runs."

Under Grady Little, the Red Sox averaged 94 wins over two
seasons and made the playoffs this year for the first time since
1999. They came back from a 2-0 deficit against Oakland, winning
three in a row to take the best-of-five, first-round series and
play the New York Yankees for the right to go to the World Series.

Boston led New York 5-2 in the seventh inning of the decisive
seventh game, but Little opted to go with tiring ace Pedro Martinez
instead of a recently rehabilitated bullpen. Martinez blew the
lead, the Yankees won 6-5 on Aaron Boone's 11th-inning homer off
Tim Wakefield and Little was let go after the season.

Red Sox management insisted that Little's fate wasn't determined
by one loss. Instead, the Boston brass had grown frustrated by his
lack of preparation and willingness to wing it rather than trust
the statistical analysis they thought was the solution to the
team's 85-year championship drought.

Francona said after his interview that he was open to using
statistics as one resource among many. And he said he didn't mind
the high expectations that would come with his new job.

"The one thing you just die for is a chance to win," said
Francona, who was 285-363 in Philadelphia, never winning more than
77 games. "To have a chance to win and to be expected to win is
what you play for, what you coach for."

The son of former major league outfielder Tito Francona,
Francona was an outfielder and first baseman in the majors for 10
seasons with Montreal, the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati, Cleveland and
Milwaukee. He hit .274 with 16 homers in 708 games.

In the minors, Francona was Michael Jordan's manager at Double-A Birmingham.

Information from SportsTicker was used in this report.