CLEVELAND — Indians manager Terry Francona spent part of his off day in — of all places — the visiting clubhouse at Progressive Field.
Today, he’ll be back over on the other side. His old team is moving in for three days.
The Red Sox are coming.
Francona, who helped vanquish the Bambino’s Curse and end a World Series title drought in Boston before his tenure as manager ended awkwardly after eight seasons, will face his former team for the first time since 2011 when the Red Sox play a three-game series against the Indians.
Francona is trying not to get caught up in the reunion, unselfishly hoping he won’t be a distraction to his players. However, there are bound to be strong emotions for him when he looks across the diamond and into in the opposing dugout, where faces Francona has come to regard as family will line the padded railing.
The same will be true for the Red Sox, some of whom spent years getting to know the man affectionately called “Tito” by almost everyone.
“It’ll be different because we were so close,” said Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who often played cards in Francona’s office following batting practice at Fenway Park. “It’ll be good to see him. We’re all so happy for him — after him having a year off and getting back into it. They (the Indians) seem like they have a good group of guys, a good team over there. It’ll be fun competing against them.”
Francona promised not to be too sentimental this week, but it was somewhat ironic that he was over in the visitor’s clubhouse yesterday to film a commercial for McDonald’s. Dressed in his Indians uniform, Francona didn’t initially realize the room had been transformed for the commercial shoot to look like Cleveland’s clubhouse.