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Longtime Cleveland Guardians manager Terry Francona is set to return to his team in 2022 after various health issues sidelined him repeatedly over the last two seasons.
2022 will be Francona’s 10th season managing in Cleveland, but before that, he made his bones leading the 2004 Sox to their first championship in 86 years, in his first year with the club.
Francona managed several Sox who went on to join him as MLB managers: Alex Cora (Sox), Kevin Cash (Rays), Rocco Baldelli (Twins), Gabe Kapler (Phillies, Giants), David Ross (Cubs), Dave Roberts (Dodgers), and now Mark Kotsay, who was announced as A’s manager earlier this month.
Having so many of his former players ascend to the rank of manager speaks volumes about Francona’s own leadership prowess. And Francona has his eye on two more former Sox to join the managerial ranks in the future:
Jason Varitek and Dustin Pedroia.
Terry Francona thinks Red Sox legends Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek should be MLB managers
Speaking to the Boston Globe‘s Dan Shaughnessy this week, Francona named Varitek and Pedroia as two players he knew had the baseball acumen to lead, even during their playing days:
“You can tell certain guys are smart, like Cora, and Cash, and [Jason] Varitek, but you don’t know if they’re going to want to stay in the game. Players make so much money now they don’t need to stay in the game, and sometimes they just don’t want the aggravation. I’m thinking [Dustin] Pedroia someday might be one of them.”
Varitek was a three-time All-Star catcher, who won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger in 2005, and two World Series (2004, 2007) with the Sox. He retired after the 2011 season but has continued his post-playing career with the Sox, first as a special assistant to the GM, then special assistant to the President of Baseball Operations, now as a coach.
Pedroia was the 2007 AL Rookie of the Year, and 2008 AL MVP. He became the first Sox infielder ever to win four Gold Gloves; he was also a four-time All-Star and a member of the 2007, 2013, and 2018 championship teams. Unfortunately, knee injuries derailed and ultimately ruined his storied career.
Sidelined almost completely after the 2017 season, Pedroia transitioned from playing to mentoring and helping his teammates, even the pitchers. In April 2019, he gave Eduardo Rodriguez some advice on a new pitching grip. Rodriguez immediately went out and dominated the Detroit Tigers en route to a 19-win season.
Later that season, he helped Rafael Devers break out of a slump. Devers would finish the season hitting .311 and leading the AL with 54 doubles.
Pedroia and Varitek are two of 13 players in Red Sox franchise history to have played their entire careers with the team. They each have an abundance of experience as players and team leaders (Varitek was team captain from 2004-11), and their postseason achievements speak for themselves.
The endorsement from Tito is just the cherry on top.