Lidge (knee surgery) could miss season opener, Francona gets extension from Red Sox Print
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Sunday, 24 February 2008 17:05
MLB Headline News

 While the Philadelphia Phillies could be without injured closer Brad Lidge on opening day, the Boston Red Sox plan to keep manager Terry Francona around for years to come.
Lidge, Philadelphia's biggest offseason addition, is scheduled for arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Monday that will sideline him for three to six weeks. He limped off the field Saturday after catching a spike in the mound on his first pitch of batting practice.
Doctors removed torn cartilage from the same knee in October. This time, they'll remove all or part of the damaged meniscus.
``Ideally, if everything went right I wouldn't miss any of the season because that would be four weeks,'' Lidge said Sunday in Clearwater, Fla. ``But that will be based on how it feels.''
The 31-year-old right-hander was expected to return to Philadelphia on Sunday for surgery. The Phillies open the season at home March 31 against Washington.
Philadelphia acquired Lidge from the Houston Astros in a November trade. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said setup man Tom Gordon would close if Lidge isn't ready for opening day.
``Right now, if we had to do this during the season, then obviously you're missing a big chunk of the season,'' Lidge said. ``I definitely need a few bullpen sessions, but I feel like my arm is ahead of schedule so after a week I should be able to throw again.''
After managing the Red Sox to two World Series championships in four seasons, Francona was rewarded Sunday with a three-year contract extension that runs through 2011.
The deal includes club options for 2012 and 2013, which would give him a full decade as manager if the team exercises them.
Francona also received something else: a touching e-mail from general manager Theo Epstein as final details were being worked out Saturday night.
``It was just personal (about) what we've been through since the very beginning,'' Francona said in Fort Myers, Fla. ``It meant a lot to me. He means a lot to me.''
Francona guided the Red Sox to World Series sweeps of St. Louis in 2004, their first title in 86 years, and Colorado last year. He succeeded Grady Little in December 2003 and later received a two-year extension through the 2008 season.
At 48, he is entering his fifth season as manager. If he serves 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 from 1935-47.
``The ballclub showed a lot of trust in me, which I don't take lightly,'' Francona said.
Despite his success, 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.''
At Mesa, Ariz., Chicago Cubs second baseman Mark DeRosa was released from the hospital, the team said, one day after complaining of a rapid heartbeat during fielding drills.
Cubs spokesman Peter Chase announced DeRosa's release shortly after 5 p.m. The team initially said DeRosa was released Saturday evening, but later said he was kept overnight at Banner Desert Medical Center as a precaution.
DeRosa is expected to be examined by a cardiologist Monday and could be back on the field by the middle of the week, the Cubs said.
His irregular heartbeat was not life-threatening, according to the team. A woman who answered the phone at the hospital said she had no information about DeRosa.
At Tucson, Ariz., Diamondbacks third baseman Chad Tracy took a big step in his rehabilitation. Make that several big steps.
Tracy, recovering from microfracture surgery on his right knee, went through agility drills on a side field at Tucson Electric Park. The workout was viewed as a milestone in Tracy's long road back.
``Today was the day that I feel like you get over the hump and you start back on the good side,'' Tracy said. ``I know now that I'll be ramping up the intensity every time out.''
Tracy still hasn't run, and the club doesn't know when he'll be able to play in a spring training game. But manager Bob Melvin was encouraged by the workout.
``It's a step where he's actually done something with his legs,'' Melvin said. ``Now at least the clock's started on him to where each and every day you do a little bit more. Hopefully we're going in the right direction.''
Tracy wasn't the only injured Arizona player to make strides on Sunday. Randy Johnson, returning from back surgery, threw 26 pitches off a mound and could be ready to face hitters in his next outing, tentatively scheduled for Thursday.
``We're going kind of outing to outing with it so we don't get too far ahead of ourselves,'' Melvin said. ``We've had no setbacks.''
The Diamondbacks don't have a timetable for the 44-year-old Johnson's first regular-season start. The same is true for Tracy, who hopes he'll be ready when the Diamondbacks open the season at Cincinnati on March 31.
``The goal is opening day,'' Tracy said. ``I also realize that this injury is not something you can rush, and it can easily be set back.''
At Kissimmee, Fla., Houston Astros pitcher Brandon Backe was held out of Sunday's workout because of a bone bruise on his right foot. He was hit by a hard grounder during batting practice Saturday.
X-rays were negative, and manager Cecil Cooper said the injury wasn't serious.
``We're going to get him some extra rest to make sure he's OK,'' Cooper said. ``At this point, nothing to be alarmed about. I'd just rather be cautious than take a chance.''
Backe was slated to start Thursday's exhibition opener against Cleveland, but doubted he would be ready in time.
At Tucson, Mark Buehrle was scratched from his scheduled outing in a Chicago White Sox intrasquad game because of soreness.
The left-hander, slated to start the season opener, had been expected to throw two innings Monday. He said he felt a little tight, but it was nothing serious and he plans to pitch against Arizona on Feb. 29 in Chicago's third spring training game.
``It's not a big deal,'' manager Ozzie Guillen said.
In other news, outfielder Shannon Stewart and the Toronto Blue Jays agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
 

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