Sources: Red Sox to hire Francona

Posted: Thursday, December 04, 2003

BOSTON Now it will be Terry Francona's turn to see whether he can lead the Boston Red Sox to the World Series.

Francona will be hired as the new Red Sox manager, two baseball sources told The Associated Press on Wednesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The ex-Philadelphia Phillies manager will join his former ace, Curt Schilling, as they try to bring the Red Sox their first championship since 1918.

Francona did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Red Sox spokesman Charles Steinberg said the team had no announcement to make.

But the sources told the AP that the team has scheduled a Thursday afternoon news conference at which they will announce Francona's hiring.

One of four candidates interviewed for the position said Wednesday night that Boston general manager Theo Epstein called him earlier in the day.

''He just told me it wasn't me,'' Anaheim bench coach Joe Maddon said in a telephone interview. ''We had a nice exchange and he was very complimentary and I was the same to him. There's nothing to get upset about.''

Francona, 44, managed Philadelphia through four losing seasons from 1997-2000 when the Phillies were a young team trying to rebuild.

Francona will be under pressure to win immediately in Boston, where Grady Little averaged 94 wins over two seasons but was let go after the team collapsed in the seventh game of the AL championship series.

The Red Sox also interviewed Los Angeles third-base coach Glenn Hoffman and Texas first-base coach DeMarlo Hale. But Francona was established as an early front-runner, and his hiring was delayed only by the team's pursuit of Schilling.

Phillies get Milton from Twins

PHILADELPHIA The Philadelphia Phillies acquired left-hander Eric Milton from the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday for reliever Carlos Silva and utility infielder Nick Punto.

The Twins also get a player to be named.

Milton, who won 41 games from 2000-02, started just three games last season after having surgery on his left knee during spring training.

A former first-round pick of the New York Yankees in 1996, Milton was an All-Star in 2001 when he went 15-7 with a 4.32 ERA. He also pitched a no-hitter in 1999 for the Twins.

''I'm happy for the opportunity. I'm glad the Phillies wanted me this badly,'' Milton said. ''I'm just going to come there and try to win.''

The Phillies have been seeking another starter for the top of their rotation since Kevin Millwood filed for free agency last month. Philadelphia was interested in Curt Schilling, but the right-hander went to Boston in a trade with Arizona last week.

Hawkins signs with Cubs

CHICAGO Scratch that right-handed setup man off the Chicago Cubs' wish list.

The Cubs confirmed Wednesday they'd agreed to terms with free agent LaTroy Hawkins. The deal, which includes a player option for 2006, guarantees the pitcher $11 million over three years.

Hawkins, who turns 31 later this month, was 9-3 with a 1.86 ERA in 77 1-3 innings for the Minnesota Twins. He had 75 strikeouts, and didn't allow a run over 20 games from July 31 to Sept. 14.

Hawkins was especially impressive in the opener of the playoffs against the New York Yankees, striking out four over two innings and getting the victory.

Hawkins was converted to a reliever in 2000, when the Twins made him their closer. He was moved to the setup role before the 2002 season, and is 15-3 with a 2.00 ERA in 139 games since then.

Bonds to appear Thursday before grand jury

SAN FRANCISCO Barry Bonds weighed 185 pounds as a rookie in 1986, when he was a slender leadoff hitter known more for stealing bases than hitting homers.

Now he's a muscle-bound 230 pounds, a six-time National League MVP who holds the season record for home runs and is gaining on Hank Aaron's career mark.

Bonds says his increased strength comes from intense weight training, a proper diet and nutritional supplements from companies such as the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.

Still, when Bonds testifies Thursday in a probe focusing on possible tax and drug violations by BALCO, the grand jurors and fans across the country might wonder whether his muscular development has been entirely natural.

Bonds, 39, repeatedly has denied using steroids and argues that his evolution as a home run hitter has been steady.

''Go look at the back of my bubble gum card,'' he said after winning a third straight MVP award last month. ''My numbers are consistent.''

Except for 1989, Bonds has hit at least 24 homers in each of his 17 full seasons. The only dramatic jump came in 2001, when his record 73 homers marked the only time he topped 50.

On the other hand, four of Bonds' five biggest homer totals came in the last four seasons all after his 35th birthday.

Bonds will be the biggest name to appear before the grand jury.

Athletes from four sports football, baseball, swimming, and track and field already have appeared. That includes track star Marion Jones and her boyfriend, 100-meter world record-holder Tim Montgomery, four Oakland Raiders and Olympic champion swimmer Amy Van Dyken.

An appearance before the grand jury, or being subpoenaed to testify, does not mean an athlete is a target of the probe.

Bonds is linked to the only two people identified so far as targets of the federal grand jury: Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, and BALCO founder Victor Conte. Bonds became a BALCO client just before his record-setting 2001 season and has praised Conte for giving him a personalized nutritional program.

Bonds posed with Conte and Anderson for the June issue of Muscle & Fitness magazine and heaped praise on both.

''I visit BALCO every three to six months. They check my blood to make sure my levels are where they should be. Maybe I need to eat more broccoli than I normally do. Maybe my zinc and magnesium intakes need to increase,'' Bonds said.

''Victor will call me to make sure I'm taking my supplements, and my trainer Greg will sit near my locker and stare at me if I don't begin working out right away. I have these guys pushing me.''

Bonds brought Anderson, a childhood friend, on a major leaguers' tour of Japan after the 2002 season, when the trainer met players such as Jason Giambi who also has been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury.

Anderson's home was raided by the Internal Revenue Service and a drug task force Sept. 5, two days after a similar raid at BALCO.

Anderson's attorney, Bill Rapoport, said computer files and other things ''that were not paper'' were among items taken in the raid. But Rapoport said he does not know specifically what was taken and said Anderson's only connection to BALCO was when he purchased vitamins from Conte to give to athletes he trained.

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