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Francona taken to hospital after chest tightness

NEW YORK -- Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona has been taken to a New York City hospital after complaining of tightness in his chest.

Francona, who turns 46 on April 22, said all morning he was not feeling well, general manager Theo Epstein said. Before Boston's game against the Yankees, Francona was taken by ambulance to New York Weill-Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan, where he has relationships with several doctors.

"He was taken to the hospital for precautionary tests," Epstein said. "He had all his faculties about him, he was just going for tests."

Francona took the 8 a.m. team bus to Yankee Stadium and began his routine, even fulfilling media obligations despite not feeling well.

Epstein said the Yankees made all of their staff available to Francona. Red Sox team doctor Thomas Gill was monitoring Francona's condition by phone from Boston, and team trainer Jim Rowe accompanied the manager to the hospital.

Bench coach Brad Mills was to fill in for Francona in Wednesday's game against New York. Francona was not expected back for the game.

Mills told the media he spoke to Francona at the hospital, and said the Sox manager told him "he feels OK."

Epstein informed the team about Francona after the second Red Sox bus arrived at the stadium around 10:30 a.m.

"It was scary because you're talking about real-life stuff, you're not talking about wins and losses," Boston first baseman Kevin Millar said.

In his first year as manager, Francona led the Red Sox to their first World Series title since 1918. He had previously managed the Philadelphia Phillies and been bench coach for the Oakland Athletics.

Francona, who played 11 Major League seasons, suffered life-threatening blood clots following arthroscopic knee surgery in November 2002. He was in Seattle interviewing for the Mariners' managing job when he experienced severe chest pains.

"I got off the plane and thought I'd had a heart attack," Francona later told The Boston Globe.

Doctors prescribed blood thinners and the problem was thought to be under control, but complications developed. He had staph infections in both knees, then developed serious hemorrhaging in his leg. He was hospitalized for more than a month and ultimately underwent eight operations.

"With the circulatory problems that he's had in the past, they (the doctors) want to make sure things are checked out a little bit more and I think they might be a little bit more cautious with him ...,” Mills told the media this morning. “I think we'll just wait and see what happens and we'll get more news as the day goes."

Francona was hired in December 2003 to replaced Grady Little, who outraged fans by leaving Pedro Martinez on the mound against the rival Yankees in the eighth inning of Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series. New York went on to win that game on Aaron Boone's 11th-inning home run and advance to the World Series.

The plot developed similarly last year under Francona, with Boston claiming the Wild Card playoff slot after finishing second in the division behind New York. This time, however, the Red Sox stormed back from a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS to beat the Yankees. They then swept St. Louis in the World Series to claim the team's first championship in 86 years.


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