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Managing to put A-Rod aside

Busy Francona tunes him out

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Terry Francona said he saw a couple of minutes of yesterday's press conference in which Alex Rodriguez put on a Yankees jersey, no more.

"I was too busy moving into my hotel room," said Francona, who plans to stay at the team hotel here for his first spring training as manager of the Red Sox.

Francona's official business begins Friday, when pitchers and catchers report and he is scheduled to have a staff meeting. But yesterday morning, he swung by City of Palms Park and spoke to a few early arrivals, including new closer Keith Foulke, lefty setup man Alan Embree, and catcher Andy Dominique. He also took a ride down Edison Avenue to the minor league complex -- where the big leaguers will train until just before the exhibition schedule begins March 4 -- unpacked his belongings at the hotel, and was planning to go to Clearwater last night, to take out the clubhouse guys he knows there from his days with the Phillies.

In short, he said, he didn't have much time to dwell on Rodriguez.

"I'm not trying to be evasive," he said, "but I didn't give it as much thought as everybody expected. I'm so concerned about trying to do what our job is ahead of us, I don't have much time to think about him. I'm aware of it, of course, but I've got so much else on my mind, preparing for what we need to do."

Rose hopes to be back

Brian Rose, a former No. 1 Sox draft pick and the International League Pitcher of the Year for Pawtucket in 1997, is hoping for an invitation to camp. Rose threw at Mo Vaughn's baseball camp for Ben Cherington, the Sox director of player development, and Ray Fagnant, the Sox area scout in New England who originally signed Rose. The righthander, still only 28, is more than two years removed from the Tommy John tendon-transfer surgery he had on his right elbow. He subsequently developed shoulder problems as well, but Rose insists he's healthy.

After finishing last season in Double A Wichita in the Royals system, where he was 0-4 with a 5.40 ERA in seven games, Rose became a six-year minor league free agent. He last pitched in the big leagues in 2001, when he went 0-3 in 10 games split between the Mets and Devil Rays, with an ERA of 7.45.

Rose, who pitched parts of four seasons with the Sox, lives in North Dartmouth, Mass., and was an assistant coach for the Dartmouth High hockey team. He has talked to a couple of teams, including the Reds, but if he doesn't get an invitation from a big league organization, he plans to pitch independent ball, to demonstrate to teams that his arm is healthy again.

"I'm going to be pitching somewhere this summer," he said. "I've lost 20 pounds -- I'm down to 205 -- and with my arm, I don't have any limitations."

The Sox signed another former big leaguer, Frank Castillo, to a Triple A contract. Castillo did not get an invitation to big league camp. Castillo, who was 6-15 with a 5.07 ERA in 2002, his last season with the Red Sox, was a combined 5-5 in Triple A last season, which he split between Sacramento (Oakland) and Richmond (Atlanta).

Website weigh-in

That intrepid Internet lurker, Curt Schilling, had a lot to say about the A-Rod deal just before it became official, according to a posting he made on the website and reprinted on the page. His posting read, in part:

"Have to laugh at anyone that's even remotely shocked by this. The unlimited payroll bitching is rather old now too. It is what it is, and we'll deal with it. Does it make them better, well I don't know. Does adding a guy that, when he retires, has a legitimate chance to be the best all around player in the games history make you better????? Hell yes it makes them better, offensively, defensively it's not even close, they get much better. Fact of the matter is the ownership of this team chooses to build a team based on in depth talent and character analysis, as well as payroll impact. You can't bitch and moan about the lack of effort on the Red Sox end, they reached for the stars on this, and it didn't fit.

"It's another challenge, but after 85 years did any of you think that getting over this final hurdle and winning it all was gonna be a cake walk? No, it'll be more fun this way."

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