Could Red Sox Reunite With Beloved Former Manager?

Sep 30, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Cleveland Guardians manager Terry Francona (77) walks off the
Sep 30, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Cleveland Guardians manager Terry Francona (77) walks off the / Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

With current Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora's contract set to expire after the 2024 season, one beloved former Red Sox manager could be looking to return to managing.

ESPN's Tim Kurkjian floated the idea that Terry Francona, who managed the Red Sox from 2004-2011, might be looking to return to the dugout. Francona posted a 744-552 roster in his eight seasons in Beantown and was the team's skipper for both their 2004 curse-breaking title and 2007 championship teams.

Cora's contract expires following the 2024 season, and there has yet to be any strong signs that he will be the team's manager beyond this season, as he has stopped short of expressing a desire to remain as Boston's manager going forward. During Spring Training, he was asked if he wanted to return as Red Sox manager in 2025, replying: "I don't want to talk about that right now." He has also indicated that he has zero interest in coaching long-term, even using Francona as an example when speaking in February.

"I'm not going to manage 10 more years, I'll tell you that. I don't see myself being like Tito [Francona] or Tony [La Russa]. I've got two [6-year-old] boys, I've got a daughter who's a junior in college. There's more in life than baseball. This is a tough business."

Alex Cora

After a historic Sept. 2011 collapse in which Boston blew a 9 game lead and missed the playoffs, the Red Sox chose not to exercise Francona's 2012 option, while general manager Theo Epstein moved onto the Chicago Cubs.

Francona wouldn't be in baseball for the 2012 season but returned in 2013 to manage the Cleveland Indians. With the Indians/Guardians, Francona won three American League Manager of the Year (2013, 2016, 2022) while guiding Cleveland to six playoff appearances in 11 seasons and Game 7 of the World Series in 2016. The 23-year manager stepped away after last season with the Guardians. He turned 65 on Monday.

A reunion could admittedly be a longshot, as there is little-to-no love lost between the current Red Sox ownership group and Francona. In a 2013 book by Francona and Dan Shaughnessy, the manager opened up about what happened at the end of his Red Sox tenure, and how the final meeting between ownership, himself, and Theo Epstein unfolded, saying that he: "knew the owners didn't want him back [for 2012], but no one was willing to express this uncomfortable truth."

"I was just trying to take accountability. But I kind of viewed that meeting as a charade. When people ask me if I left the Red Sox on my own or if I was fired, I don't even know how to answer that. I tried my ass off to put the team in position to win, and I worked my ass off that last year more than ever."

"Francona: The Red Sox Years"

Francona also didn't hold back on his assessment of the disconnect between his approach to baseball and that of the ownership group in the book, with lines that still ring true with Red Sox fans 10 years later.

"They come in with all these ideas about baseball, but I don't think they love baseball. I think they like baseball. It's revenue, and I know that's their right and their interest because they're owners -- and they're good owners. But they don't love the game. It's still more of a toy or a hobby for them. It's not their blood. They're going to come in and out of baseball. It's different for me. Baseball is my life."

"Francona: The Red Sox Years"

Francona and Theo Epstein, who collaborated for those Boston championship teams, maintain a good relationship. Epstein is now a senior adviser and part-owner of Fenway Sports Group. If there is any hope of a reunion, which would be widely welcomed by Red Sox fans, it would likely have to be by Theo Epstein helping to extend an olive branch.

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