He's going back to Boston.
For the first time as an opposing manager since leaving Boston, Francona will walk into famed Fenway Park to face the Red Sox, the team he led to two World Series titles during eight seasons.
Francona, who was let go after the Red Sox collapsed in 2011, said he hasn't given much thought to his homecoming, but he's certain it will conjure up some memories.
"I'm sure I'll have a lot of emotions," he said Wednesday before his AL Central-leading Indians lost 11-7 to Detroit. "The one thing I want to remind myself - and I have - is that this game is tough enough to play and I don't want our guys having extra baggage during that series. I need to be very cognizant of that, that whatever feelings I'm having, I'll deal with 'em.
"It's hard enough to play this game."
Francona returned to Fenway in 2012 when he was working for ESPN. But this time will be different because he'll be wearing a uniform, and the 53-year-old made it clear that although he'll forever be remembered for what he helped the Red Sox accomplish, he's Cleveland's manager.
"I'm proud to go back there as an Indian," he said. "I don't want that to ever get lost in the shuffle."
Francona said he hasn't considered what kind of reaction he may get from Red Sox fans, who welcomed him warmly when he took part in Fenway's 100th anniversary ceremony last year.
"I don't really think about stuff like that," he said. "I never really spent much time. Just not part of what I'm hopefully about."
With Francona as their manager, the Red Sox ended an 86-year drought by winning the World Series in 2004 and then won it again in 2007.
Indians pitcher Justin Masterson , who played parts of two seasons for Francona in Boston, hopes Red Sox fans show him deserved love.
"I think fans should be cheering, overjoyed and excited simply because the season maybe didn't end well in his last year, but I mean he put Boston on the map," Masterson said. "He revitalized the city by bringing Red Sox Nation back because it hadn't really been much before he got there and it helped, along with many other people, to put them back on the map."
Masterson has seen Francona's emotional side, and he expects his manager to be moved by the experience.
"I don't think he will let anyone see if it is emotional for him, but I think the caring individual that he is, there's always going to be a soft spot in his heart for Boston and for Fenway Park and for everything that took place there - and rightfully so," Masterson said. "So there will be some joy there, which is why whether or not he gets a good reception, he should because he deserves it."
While Masterson's seven wins have helped Francona begin his Indians tenure impressively, no member of the rotation has a lower ERA than scheduled Thursday starter Zach McAllister (3-3, 2.65 ERA). Cleveland has won each of McAllister's last four starts as he's gone 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA.
One of the right-hander's worst performances came against Boston on April 18 as he yielded three runs, six hits and three walks over five innings in a 6-3 defeat. He fell to 1-2 with a 4.05 ERA in three career starts versus the Red Sox.
McAllister will be opposed by a stumbling Ryan Dempster (2-4, 4.27). He's 0-2 in his past three starts, getting tagged for 15 runs in 16 2-3 innings. Six days after serving up a career high-tying three homers in a 12-4 loss to Toronto, Dempster had a season-high six walks in a season-low 4 2-3 innings of a 12-5 win at Minnesota on Saturday.
The good news for Dempster is he's 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA in four lifetime starts against Cleveland, including two victories in as many tries last year while with Texas.
Dempster didn't pitch when Boston swept a three-game set in Cleveland from April 16-18. The Red Sox have won eight of 10 over the Indians and have not lost a series to them at Fenway since 2006.
Boston (28-19) is coming off a 6-3 road trip on which David Ortiz drove in 14 runs, including two in a 6-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.
Shane Victorino missed a second straight game due to a tight hamstring, and his status is unclear.
Cleveland (26-19) enters after being swept in two games by the Tigers following a five-game win streak. The Indians, winners in 18 of 25, have not lost three straight this month.
Michael Brantley is 7 for 16 with nine RBIs in the last four games.
|May 01, 2013||Vinnie Pestano||15-Day DL||Right elbow tendinitis|
|May 01, 2013||Vinnie Pestano||15-Day DL||Right elbow soreness|
|April 30, 2013||Nick Swisher||Day-to-Day||Sore left shoulder|
|April 25, 2013||Lou Marson||15-Day DL||Right shoulder soreness|
|April 20, 2013||Asdrubal Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left game - left wrist contusion|
|April 20, 2013||Brett Myers||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|Boston Red Sox|
|May 20, 2013||Shane Victorino||Day-to-Day||Left game - Left hamstring tightness|
|May 12, 2013||David Ross||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|May 07, 2013||Joel Hanrahan||60-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|May 07, 2013||David Ross||Day-to-Day||Left game - Knee injury|
|May 07, 2013||Will Middlebrooks||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right side soreness|
|May 06, 2013||Joel Hanrahan||Day-to-Day||Left game - right arm strain|
BOSTON (AP) -- Terry Francona returned to Fenway Park and found some more pleasant memories.
A standing ovation. A video tribute to his time as manager of the Boston Red Sox. And, most importantly, a win for his Cleveland Indians .
Drew Stubbs , Mark Reynolds and Michael Bourn combined for nine hits and eight RBIs and the Indians had 16 hits in their 12-3 win on Thursday night.
"I tried to keep my emotions inside," said Francona, who led the Red Sox to two World Series championships in eight years. "I didn't want to be the main focus. You want to let the players play."
Francona, let go by Boston after the 2011 season, got the ovation after the first inning during a video display on the center-field scoreboard. He raised his left hand to the crowd and tapped his heart with his right.
"I was honored," he said.
And, perhaps, just a bit emotional.
"It was just neat to see the organization do that for him," Reynolds said. "I think I saw him teary-eyed a little bit during that thing. It was pretty neat and I was glad to be a part of it."
It was the fans' only chance to cheer for Francona. He didn't bring out the lineup card and didn't have to leave the visiting dugout during the game because all of Cleveland's pitching changes came at the start of an inning.
He had left Boston as the second winningest manager, behind Joe Cronin , in club history.
In his first year as Cleveland's manager, he has the Indians in first place in the AL Central after they went 68-94 last season.
They're 22-9 in their last 31 games.
"They've got a good team and are in first place for a reason, not by accident," said Boston manager John Farrell , Francona's former pitching coach with the Red Sox.
The 12 runs are the most scored by the Indians in the park since June 28, 2005 and the most they scored there without a home run since 1953.
"Homers (have) been known to be rally killers," Reynolds said. "You keep having guys on base, it keeps the pressure on the pitcher and it makes him be precise."
Zach McAllister (4-3) allowed three runs in five innings. He hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any of his nine starts this year. Scott Barnes earned his first major-league save by pitching three shutout innings.
"I think everyone wanted to go out there and get a win, not just for the team but for (Francona) also," McAllister said. "He's been great for us this year and he's well liked everywhere he is. It's definitely exciting to get him a win."
Ryan Dempster (2-5) gave up four runs in three innings with four walks in his third straight poor start for Boston.
"My command has been terrible," he said. "I have walked 10 guys in the last nine innings. Bottom line is I've got to fix that. I can't get myself in that kind of trouble."
Every Cleveland starting batter had a hit and all except Jason Kipnis scored. Carlos Santana reached base five times with a single and four walks.
The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI double by Stubbs and made it 4-0 in the third, scoring on a two-run single by Reynolds and a force play at second on a grounder by Mike Aviles .
The Red Sox cut that to 4-3 in the third on David Ortiz 's eighth homer of the season but wasted a chance for a bigger inning. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a single and took second on a walk to Daniel Nava . Dustin Pedroia then singled, but Ellsbury was thrown out at the plate by center fielder Bourn. Ortiz then hit the next pitch for his three-run homer.
Run-scoring singles by Asdrubal Cabrera in the fourth and Bourn in the fifth made it 6-3 before the Indians scored six runs when they sent 10 men to the plate in the sixth.
They loaded the bases with no outs on a walk to Cabrera, a single by Michael Brantley and a walk to Santana. Alex Wilson replaced Clayton Mortensen and gave up an RBI single to Reynolds. Yan Gomes followed with a two-run double after first baseman Mike Napoli dropped his foul pop for an error.
Aviles hit an infield pop for the first out, but Stubbs tripled in two runs and Bourn singled in another before Wilson struck out the next two batters.
That was more than enough for Francona to relax the rest of the way with a big lead.
"He's one of the best managers to ever manage here," Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "I wasn't surprised by the (fans') reaction. It is all earned and deserved."
Notes: Dempster had his shortest start of the season, lasting three innings. His previous shortest came in his prior start, 4 2-3 innings. ... The Indians recalled LHP Barnes from Triple-A Columbus and designated LHP David Huff for assignment. ... Boston 3B Will Middlebrooks left the game in the top of the fifth with lower back spasms. He was called out on strikes on both his at bats before being replaced by Pedro Ciriaco . ... Cleveland's Nick Swisher missed his third straight game while on the paternity list. ... Justin Masterson (7-2) pitches for the Indians against John Lackey (2-4) in the second game of the four-game series on Friday night.