Terry Francona’s taken more than his fair share of questions about David Ortiz leading up to Game 1 of the ALDS.
“I love David,” Francona said. “I don’t want him to beat us. And when he’s in the batter’s box, it makes me nervous.”
And Francona went on to express how he wishes Ortiz would retire before Thursday night’s first pitch.
But Big Papi isn’t the only thing that’s caught the ex-Sox manager’s eye -- he’s impressed by Boston’s young, impactful players.
“The guys they've brought up are not just good, they're bordering on great,” Cleveland’s manager said.
In fact, most of the young players were acquired by Boston when Francona was still the Red Sox manager. Xander Bogaerts was signed as a free agent in 2009, while Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts and Matt Barnes were drafted in 2011, Francona's last year in Boston.
And Francona gave most of the credit for the Boston's youth movement to another former Red Sox employee.
“What a good job [ex-GM] Ben Cherington did,” Francona said. “It's hard in Boston to bring guys to the Major Leagues because you don't have the ability to see if a guy can kind of sink or swim. When you get there you better be good.
“And it's a hard place to do that. And I think Ben Cherington and [current Sox GM Mike] Hazen, those guys deserve a ton of credit because they've got some really good young players.”
Cherington’s received quite a bit of credit of late for having a major hand in bringing together much of the 2016 roster.
And rightfully so. Not only did he help develop those young players, but he also helped in the development of Clay Buchholz and Dustin Pedroia. And you can’t forget signing Hanley Ramirez -- another player developed in Boston’s minor leagues -- and Rick Porcello.
Not to mention extending Porcello’s contract before it seemed like a good idea to everyone.
You can only imagine what Francona -- and all of baseball -- will say about Cherington if the Red Sox continue their ascension.