|Boston manager Terry Francona gets three-year extension|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 24 February 2008 11:50|
The deal includes club options for 2012 and 2013, which would give him a full decade as manager if the team exercises them.
Francona guided the Red Sox to World Series sweeps of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004, their first title in 86 years, and the Colorado Rockies last year. He succeeded the fired Grady Little when he signed a three-year contract on Dec. 4, 2003. Francona later received a two-year extension through the 2008 season.
``The ballclub showed a lot of trust in me, which I don't take lightly,'' Francona said after Sunday's spring training workout. ``I'm honored.''
Francona is entering his fifth season as Red Sox manager, the last of his previous contract. If he serves out the full three-year extension, he would have eight seasons on the job. The only Red Sox manager with a longer tenure was Joe Cronin, who held the job for 13 years from 1935-47.
``It's a great day for the organization to know Tito will be around for at least the next four years, if not the next six,'' general manager Theo Epstein said. ``This demonstrates that he's a core member of the organization. Now he has a contract that reflects that status as well.''
Financial details were not released, but Francona moved closer to Joe Torre as baseball's highest-paid manager. Torre signed a $13 million, three-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers after spending the past 12 seasons as manager of the New York Yankees.
Despite being the most successful manager over the past four years, Francona, who prefers to deflect praise to his players, hasn't gotten the national recognition that comes with such accomplishments, third baseman Mike Lowell said.
``I think he was underpaid for a couple of years, too,'' Lowell said. ``He's not that outspoken guy where he says what he did, but he has his own way of allowing guys to maximize their talent. I actually view that as a strength.''
Francona is considered a players' manager and has become more comfortable when he has to confront them, Epstein said. But he does it privately and never uses the media to send a message to players, Lowell said.
Francona also stands by players through their on-field struggles.
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia was batting .172 last May 1, but Francona kept using him. Pedroia finished the season with a .317 batting average and won the AL Rookie of the Year award.
``It just shows what kind of guy he is and how he defends his players and sticks by us through any situation,'' Pedroia said. ``He's the only manager I've ever played for up here but he's the only one I'd want to play for.''
Epstein and Francona, who let agent Pat Rooney negotiate for him, acknowledged that the talks weren't always smooth.
But early in spring training, owner John Henry and Epstein were optimistic the extension would be completed before the regular season.
``Sometimes when there's success in an organization, there's higher prices that come with it and Tito certainly deserves it. So ownership stepped up,'' Epstein said. ``It wasn't the easiest thing in the world to get this contract done.''
Francona said he had some moments of concern but preferred to let Rooney handle the talks rather than be in an adversarial position with his bosses.
Francona's .710 winning percentage (22-9) in postseason games is the best in major league history among managers with at least 20 games. He also has the most World Series wins (eight) without a loss.
His .579 regular-season winning percentage (375-273) is the second-best in club history among managers with at least 350 games. Francona's other managerial job was with Philadelphia from 1997-2000, all losing seasons.