By all accounts, manager Terry Francona is a workaholic, working such strenuous hours that he at times threatens his own tenuous health. So it came as no surprise when Francona announced yesterday that even with the uncertain status of so many players on his team, and the likelihood of many new players being added, he still has written up a line-up for Opening Day 2006 in Texas. And, even more shocking, he includes struggling first baseman Kevin Millar, although it's a virtual certainty Millar won't be with the team.
“Yeah, I got Kevin penciled in as my first baseman,” he said. “I know he struggled a lot last year and the year before, and that he kills us defensively, but I still feel like he’s gonna get hot sooner or later, and when he does…watch out! I just think he gives us the best chance to win. Plus, the guy’s funny as heck and keeps everybody loose in the clubhouse. Like the time he emptied David Ortiz’ shampoo bottle and filled it with Big Papi’s spicy salsa. You never heard such a scream! Or the time he cut the seat out of Manny’s pants, and Manny goes running onto the field with those cheeks flashing the whole park. Hilarious stuff! Would Paul Konerko do that? I heard the guy’s about as funny as a mass grave. You gotta consider these things.”
While reporters were generally perplexed that Francona is trying to figure out a line-up before Spring Training and before potential free agent signings, Francona was somewhat pragmatic in his response. “Guys, when baseball season ends I have absolutely nothing else to do. I tried watching that show “Lost” but it’s too darn complicated with all those flashbacks, and I can’t figure out what those numbers are supposed to mean. “Invasion”? “Surface”? They scare the heck outta me; I mean, I have trouble getting to sleep as it is. Those sitcoms are just a little too racy for me, and the people on those reality shows have even less of a life than me. As for the great outdoors, looking at foliage does nothing for me. It’s just dead leaves, right?”
Meanwhile, Francona’s loyalty to Millar continues to baffle . “My statistics show he hits really well on Opening Day, and he does really well in Texas, before it starts getting so hot there during the summer.” He pauses for a moment, and then can’t suppress a laugh. “Oh, I don’t know if any of those statistics are really true,” he admits. “I just love the guy. He’s hysterical. Those Kentucky Fried Chicken commercials? Classics, just classics. Who cares if he can’t hit anymore?”