Terry Francona annoyed by comments

Terry Francona's initial response to Buck Showalter's criticism of Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein was diplomatic, saying he hadn't seen the comments and didn't care to respond.

But given more time to read Showalter's comments, Francona said he was "aggravated" and says the Baltimore Orioles manager was out of line taking a swipe at his boss, The Boston Globe reported.

Showalter, whose Orioles played the Red Sox in a spring training game on Sunday, said he contacted Francona before the game after learning that Francona was perturbed.

"I talked to Terry a little bit before the game. I would be [frustrated], too," Showalter said, according to MASNSports.com. "I just felt like I owed him a call. I know Terry and I like him a lot. I have a lot of respect for him."

On Thursday, Francona played down Showalter's comments to Men's Journal, in which Showalter suggested Epstein's success as Red Sox GM had more to do with his team's deep pockets than his baseball acumen. Francona said he hadn't seen the story and added that he thought Epstein was pretty smart.

Sunday, Francona had more to say.

"I got asked that the other day and I hadn't seen it. I got it third-hand and I kind of joked about it a little bit. Then I read it and actually I was kind of aggravated a little bit," Francona said Sunday, according to the Globe. "I don't think that's anybody's place. That's my boss. I was actually kind of aggravated a little bit. It's not the end of the world but I thought he shouldn't have done it."

"I just thought that was a little bit out of line," Francona added, according to the Globe. "I don't think he'd be appreciating if I said something about Andy [MacPhail, the Orioles' GM], which I wouldn't," Francona said. "It's none of my business. And for the record, I think Andy's really good."

In the interview with Men's Journal, Showalter was critical of Epstein and Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.

"The first time we went to Yankee Stadium, I screamed at Derek Jeter from the dugout," Showalter told the magazine about the Yankees captain. "Our guys are thinking, 'Wow, he's screaming at Derek Jeter.' Well, he's always jumping back from balls just off the plate. I know how many calls that team gets -- and yes, he [ticks] me off."

Jeter, in an interview with ESPN's Karl Ravech, responded with a measure of sarcasm about Showalter's comments.

"I've never heard someone make a big deal out of how someone takes inside pitches. So after I figure out this stride thing [in my swing] I'll work on how I take pitches," Jeter said.

In the interview, Ravech told Jeter that ESPN Stats & Information had determined Jeter had more inside strikes called against him than the major league average.

"You hear that, Buck?" Jeter replied. "There you go. So pass that along to Buck."

In a study of pitches to Jeter over the past three seasons, ESPN Stats & Information found that inside pitches were called strikes 82.4 percent of the time for Jeter -- and an average of 73.8 percent of the time for the 205 major leaguers who saw at least 50 pitches meeting the criteria.

Showalter's comments about Epstein questioned whether the Red Sox general manager, who has helped build a pair of World Series champions, could do so with a smaller payroll.

"I'd like to see how smart Theo Epstein is with the Tampa Bay payroll," Showalter told the magazine. "You got Carl Crawford 'cause you paid more than anyone else, and that's what makes you smarter? That's why I like whipping their butt. It's great, knowing those guys with the $205 million payroll are saying, 'How the hell are they beating us?' "

Last season, the Orioles and Red Sox split their 18 games, 9-9.

"I don't remember them beating us that much. Maybe it was a different schedule," Francona said, according to the Globe.

Showalter said Sunday morning he had yet to read the Men's Journal story, according to the Globe. When asked if he planned to apologize to Epstein, he said, "Let me get through spring training. Then we'll see what happens."

Epstein has declined to comment about the story.