06/28/08 8:16 PM ET
Francona's All-Star tasks nearly at hand
AL manager to pick last four pitchers, two position players
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
As the manager of the American League squad, Francona -- in conjunction with Major League Baseball -- will pick the last four pitchers and two position players.
For weeks now, he has been keeping his own rankings, along with pitching coach John Farrell and bench coach Brad Mills.
But until the rosters are officially unveiled on July 6, there is only so much Francona can do.
"The way it shakes out, we try to rank and re-rank every player that we think could have a chance," Francona said. "The fans are going to vote, then the players are going to vote and we're going to clean it up -- is basically what it is. We're just trying to be as prepared as possible. If somebody gets hurt, sometimes it's not even up to us. It's the next guy in line. We just feel an obligation to be prepared."
The last time Francona had this responsibility was 2005, and it left some tense feelings within the confines of his own clubhouse. Pitchers Matt Clement and Mike Timlin both had hot starts for the Red Sox, but neither made the team, initially. Francona wound up having a clubhouse meeting to try to get everybody on the same page.
Clement was eventually added on after an injury to Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay, but the whole situation is still fresh in Francona's mind.
"I'm really hopeful that this is going to go well," Francona said. "I've got some worries."
With David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia all on pace to win the voting at their respective positions, Francona is worried that some others from his team might get excluded. Every team must have at least one All-Star representative.
"One of the hard things is, it's because we're a popular team and our guys are doing well in the voting, I also feel like I don't think our other guys should be penalized for that," Francona said. "That's a worry of mine."
The mananger isn't worried about taking up residence in the home clubhouse at Yankee Stadium. That is just something that will be a bit of an oddity.
Though Francona has been to Yankee Stadium countless times as a player, coach and manager, this will be the first time he'll be taking up residence away from the cramped visiting clubhouse.
"I've never sat on that side before," Francona said. "I've never walked over there. I told [Yankees manager Joe] Girardi, 'Joe, if you move your stuff out of here, I'm going to be [mad]. I'm going to be there for about nine hours. I can throw my bag on the floor like I do at home anyway. I'm hopeful that he understands. I really don't want him moving out of there. That's so silly."
Girardi, along with Tigers manager Jim Leyland, are the two fellow managers Francona selected to be on his staff.
"I know one thing about [Girardi]," said Francona. "He's really respectful of baseball. I don't want him moving out of his office."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.