BOSTON—A wily and experienced pitcher put on a clinic in shutting down a potent offense Wednesday at…
Francona 'Knew' Hafner Would Develop
Francona was an assistant to Indians general manager Mark Shapiro in 2001, then became the Texas Rangers' bench coach in 2002 when Hafner made his big-league debut. "He got called up the year I was there working with him in spring training a little bit at first base," Francona recalled. "A real nice kid at the time, now he's a nice star. Turned himself into one of the premier hitters in the game." When asked to compare Hafner to Red Sox DH David Ortiz, Francona said: "I don't know because I'm not around him as much. We know David's our guy, he can change the game with one swing. That's obvious. [Hafner] swings at strikes. "I remember talking to (Indians assistant GM) Chris Antonetti and those guys, when they were thinking about doing that trade (Right-hander Ryan Drese and catcher Einar Diaz to Texas for Hafner and right-hander Aaron Myette on Dec. 6, 2002). "I don't know if I can sit here and say ‘Oh yeah, I knew this was coming.' I thought there was a chance. But I'd be lying to you if (he said he knew Hafner would be a star). "He was a kid out of Triple-A who swung at strikes and had really good power. But to be able to say this guy's going to be this good of a hitter? That's not easy to say. "He's a real good kid. I'm sure he's still a real good kid. This kid's turned into quite a hitter." When asked how the Sox have managed to handle Sizemore (0-for-7 in first two games of series) so well, Francona hedged: "I'd rather do it after tomorrow. Pretty good hitter. I'll feel a little more comfortable when he's out of town."
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