03/23/08 7:27 AM ET
Tito leaving tourism to others
Manager focusing on just baseball as regular season nears
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
"We're in a different city, but it could just as well be San Francisco," Francona said. "I came to the ballpark. I wake up, and I'm going to the ballpark."
In fact, Francona didn't realize it was Easter until his daughter -- who was dressed in yellow -- told him.
"Once baseball season starts, it doesn't really matter what day it is. Saturday, Sunday, Monday," said Francona. "When we have a game, we wake up and play it. I celebrated Easter Sunday by catching up on a little bit of sleep and then watching Oakland play whoever they played."
Did he wish he had time to check out the sights?
"Not now," said Francona. "I'd love to some day. Not when we have baseball games. I wouldn't see it. I would just be thinking, 'Hey, I've got to get to the ballpark.' That's just the way it is. My wife gave up. She knows."
Instead of visiting local temples or eateries, Francona is thinking about such things as roster decisions.
Prior to Tuesday's regular season opener against the Athletics, the Red Sox must finalize their 25-man roster. For the two regular season games in Tokyo, the Sox can designate three players as inactive and then reinstate them for the two games in Oakland on April 1-2.
In other words, of the 30 players the Red Sox have brought to Japan, two will have to be involved in some type of roster move by Tuesday.
Reliever Mike Timlin (stitches in right ring finger) will have to be one of the three inactive players, or be placed on the disabled list. There's hardly any shot he'd be able to pitch against the A's.
"I can't see him pitching, but we'll at least give him a chance to go out and throw a little just to -- again, it kind of comes down to the respect of a veteran guy, just to let him have a little bit of a say in how he feels," said Francona. "Being realistic, he's probably not going to pitch."
Center fielder Coco Crisp, who started Sunday's exhibition game against Yomiuri, will be available for Opening Day. Crisp was hindered by groin problems for a couple of weeks.
"I think he's pain free," Francona said. "I don't think his burst yet is what it will be or what I can be. I think each day he gets a little more confidence. It's just reality but going on a 17-hour flight, I don't think that's probably the best way to feel better. But there's no getting around it. I thought he did a great job just to get to the point where he could make this trip."
Before Monday's workout, Francona will hold a team meeting in advance of starting the regular season.
Then he'll get ready to begin his fifth season as Boston's manager. Perhaps some day, Francona will be a Tokyo tourist. But this trip is clearly of the business variety.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.