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Francona addresses some issues

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  February 13, 2011 01:11 PM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. Terry Francona just spoke to reporters for about 20 minutes. Here's a rundown on some of the topics he addressed:

J.D. Drew's left hamstring: "Its something that he has voiced some concern about. ... I dont think hes real concerned about it. But it has been there. Well certainly monitor it."

Drew has seen Dr. James Andrews about the issue and visited Boston to get checked out.

Using Pedroia in spring training:" I dont know about going slower. When he does his work, we need to not break it up in segments. We try not to do that anyway."

On the catching situation: "We have Tek and Salty and I think we're pretty comfortable with that, maybe more than people realize. Salty's had a tremendous winter. This guy's potentially a power-hitting, switch-hitting catcher. If that doesn't come to fruition right away, that's not the end of the world. We love the way he wants to run the game and he aspires to the run the game. And Tek's in a good spot. He feels good about where he is and that makes us feel better."

On Papelbon: There may be various reasons why he wants to bounce back. Im not sure I care, whether its financial I just want him to get a bunch of saves. He looks like hes in great shape. I dont think this has been as much of an issue for Pap as maybe it was for people talking about Pap. Right away when we signed Jenks, I was in touch in Pap and he knew where I stood on this. I dont think it was much of an issue.

Will free agency motivate Papelbon? Yes. I think it will motivate him. I dont think hes ever been real hesitant to say that. He aspires to be one of the high-bar (closers). Thats OK.

Jacoby Ellsbury: "Hes healthy now. He says hes doing everything without being limited, which is good because that had been a while. Itll be fun to watch Ells. A year ago this time were talking about him playing left field, being our leadoff hitter and being a game-changer. Now we have the game-changer in left field (in Carl Crawford) and can move Ells back over to center and hopefully allow him to continue his development. He missed a lot of time. Early on, does that slow him down? Well see. If it does, we have ways to take the pressure off him. We can hit him lower in the lineup. Weve been pretty open about that. If hes feeling good, wed love him to lead off. If not, we can protect him a little bit.

On the recent death of Chuck Tanner: The former Pirates manager was good friends with Tito Francona, Terry's dad. When Terry was growing up in Pittsburgh, Tanner and one of his coaches, Joe Lonnett, would throw him BP in the winter at Three Rivers Stadium.

"I'd always find a pair of 11 spikes sitting there. Chuck had an amazing way of making you feel like you were the most important person in the world. Whether it was a room or a field, he'd put that arm around you and you felt like you were the most important person.

Tanner managed some Pittsburgh teams full of characters, as Francona has with the Sox. He asked him once how to handle such clubs and when to draw the line.

"He talked about being on the planes. He said, 'Hey, sometimes you've got to know when to look forward.' I said, 'When would you look backwards?' He said, 'If I thought the plane was crashing, I'd turn around.'

"I loved him. You're hearing the same stuff, just different stories."

In terms of some other issues, Francona hinted that the Red Sox could carry an extra reliever because Jed Lowrie's versatility could cancel out needing an extra backup infielder. There are few days off early in the season, meaning a reliever would be handy. ... Alfredo Aceves and Dennys Reyes are having visa issues. Reyes may be a few days late while Aceves is expected to be on time, then leave for a day to get his status straightened out.

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