Red Sox manager Terry Francona will be answering questions on NESN.com this offseason. You can have your questions answered by e-mailing them to his mailbag.
Here’s his ninth installment.
First off, thank you for all the leadership, wisdom and innovation that you've brought to the team. You are the best manager I have seen in my 33 years. Has Jason Varitek been approached about a coaching role with the Red Sox? This seems ideal, considering how well he handles a pitching staff.
–Shawn Devine, West Peabody, Mass.
Shawn, thank you for the kind words. Very much appreciated. As for Jason, we are still happy having him on our team as a player but I agree he exhibits the skills to be a solid coach or manager when his playing days are done. It is probably not a coincidence that a lot of catchers go on to be coaches and managers.
Was there any improvement in Rocco Baldelli's health in 2009? I think many Red Sox fans, myself included, were hoping for a "feel good" story in '09. What can you tell us?
–Tom, Wellington, Fla.
Rocco did a terrific job of handling his physical limitations. He communicated extremely well with our entire staff. He is such an incredible talent, it’s a shame he can’t play every day. But we were lucky to have him for a year. We all enjoyed having him around. He is truly one of the good guys in our sport!
We can still use Mike Lowell's bat, now that he is not going to Texas. Is there any reason why Lowell couldn't switch to first base, outfield or designated hitter, since third base seems to be beyond his post-hip surgery ability?
–Jon Jepson, Sacramento, Calif.
The first thing we need to do is let Mikey have his thumb surgery. He should be ready right about the time we get to spring training. He could definitely be a candidate to do some DHing and also maybe even play a little first base. We will make those decisions as we move forward this spring. We will try and get every player ready for the 2010 season and then see where everyone fits.
With all of the new exciting additions to the 2010 Red Sox, can you talk about what your role is in helping define team chemistry and if team chemistry is an important part of winning at the MLB level?
–Doug B., Ithaca, N.Y.
We work on our team chemistry right from day one in spring training. We address it in our very first meeting, especially with new players. It takes time to build up that loyalty that we all want. It doesn’t happen overnight. But come the dog days of August, it certainly helps to have players that care about each other.
Will Jacoby Ellsbury play left field and will Mike Cameron play center field? I really think Ellsbury should play in left so he can learn from Cameron. What do you think?
–Dan, Riverside, R.I.
We have a decision to make on where each guy will play. The good news is we have two center-fielders. So wherever they end up playing, our outfield defense should be really good. Good pitching and solid defense really makes for crisply played games.
Thanks for all your questions in '09. Happy and safe new year to all of Red Sox Nation!