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Francona suffers chest pains

Ailing prior to game, manager hospitalized

NEW YORK -- Red Sox manager Terry Francona spent yesterday undergoing extensive tests in a hospital here after complaining of chest pains and missing the team's 7-3 win over the New York Yankees.

Francona, who three years ago was hospitalized with a life-threatening pulmonary embolism, was taken by Medi-Vac to Boston last night for continued observation, team officials said. He was expected to be taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he will be placed under the observation of team physician Thomas Gill.

Francona told members of his coaching staff last night that he would undergo further exams and a "procedure." Bench coach Brad Mills, who managed the Sox in Francona's absence yesterday, said last night he had been told there was a chance he'd be called upon to manage the club in Toronto as well. The Red Sox, who are off today, play the Blue Jays tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday.

"He keeps telling me he's going to be OK," said Mills, who spoke with Francona after the game. "But you don't get prodded and poked and tested as much as he was today without some concern. He's probably concerned a little bit, but he's confident things will wind up OK."

Francona, who turns 46 April 22, walked out of Yankee Stadium with team trainer Jim Rowe at approximately 9:30 a.m. and entered a waiting ambulance that had been summoned by a 911 call, according to a member of the police detachment assigned to the Stadium. He was taken to Weill Cornell Medical Center, about 20 minutes from the stadium, for precautionary reasons, according to Glenn Geffner, the team's vice president of media relations.

General manager Theo Epstein later joined Francona at the hospital, and the manager's condition was being monitored by Gill from Boston, the club said. During a series of operations three years ago, a device known as a Greenfield filter was inserted inside Francona to prevent blood clots from reaching his lungs and heart.

"He is resting comfortably, awaiting test results, and his blood pressure was back to normal since the ninth inning," said Geffner, who spoke with Epstein after the game. "He did a mild bit of second-guessing; he listened to most of the game on the radio."

Sox CEO Larry Lucchino, who was attending the red carpet ceremony at Fenway Park for the premiere of the movie "Fever Pitch," told the Associated Press last night, "[Francona's] still undergoing some tests, we understand he has not had a heart attack. The tests will continue, but the victory today I know helped his morale." Mills, a longtime friend of Francona, said he first became aware that Francona was experiencing discomfort when he went into the visiting manager's office to retrieve that day's lineup card, which Mills customarily copies and posts in the clubhouse for the players. Francona and the coaching staff had taken an 8 a.m. team bus from the team's hotel to Yankee Stadium, and Francona had just completed a 15-minute radio interview on WEEI when Mills walked into the office.

"I was giving him a bad time about taking a catnap on the bus, even though it's a 40-minute ride and a lot of guys sleep," Mills said. "So I made a little comment. Then he looked up and said, `I don't feel very good.'

"I said, `Maybe you should go see "Skid" [trainer Rowe].' He said he felt a little tightness."

Mills and three other members of the staff -- pitching coach Dave Wallace, third base coach Dale Sveum, and bullpen coach Bill Haselman -- had gone to dinner the night before with Francona to Del Frisco's, a steakhouse near the team's midtown Manhattan hotel. Both Sveum and Wallace said Francona made no mention of feeling discomfort.

"We walked back no later than 9:30," Mills said. "He was feeling good. He was the one who wanted us to walk back."

About an hour after Francona was taken away by ambulance, the Sox clubhouse was closed for a brief meeting in which Epstein informed the team that Francona had been hospitalized. The general manager then made a brief statement to reporters, and shortly thereafter left the stadium for the hospital.

"We're probably the ones who did it to him," said Sox center fielder Johnny Damon, alluding to the team losing its first two games of the season to the Yankees. "It would be a little more scary, but we know he's going to be OK."

In November 2002, Francona, who had undergone arthroscopic knee surgery a week earlier, experienced chest pains in a hotel room in Seattle the night before he was to interview for the job as Mariners' manager. "I was thinking, `Aw, you've got to be kidding,' " Francona said in an interview just before being hired by the Red Sox. "I came all the way out here to have a heart attack? I should have just done that at home."

Francona went through the interview process, but said he had to ask Pat Gillick, who was then the Mariners' GM, to repeat several questions. The pain persisted upon his return home to Philadelphia, and X-rays revealed a pulmonary embolism on each side of his lungs. "They told me I was lucky," said Francona, who was given blood thinners to avert further clotting.

But there would be further, serious complications. Francona had developed staph infections in both knees and would need surgery, but because he was on blood thinners, the operation had to be delayed until his blood was thick enough to withstand the operation. It took two surgeries on each knee to eliminate the infection. Still unable to walk properly, he requested another examination, and within hours was back in emergency surgery, for massive internal bleeding in his right thigh. The surgery required an incision from the top of his thigh to his knee; amputation was narrowly averted.

"I'm probably lucky to be alive," Francona told the Globe last year. "And I know I'm lucky to have all my limbs."

During his ordeal, Francona, then the Oakland A's bench coach, had told manager Ken Macha to start looking for another coach. But he somehow made it to spring training before the 2003 season, even though he said he was taking painkillers that "would knock your socks off."

Before hiring him as manager in November 2003, the Red Sox put Francona through an extensive medical exam and came away satisfied he was healthy. He says he still experiences a burning in his legs when he climbs stairs, but that he is able to get on the treadmill and throw batting practice.

Mills said Francona told him that he was "tickled to death" the Sox rallied to win yesterday's game by scoring five runs in the ninth.

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