Tito lightens mood at Farrell's chemo session

Longtime friend Francona offers support for Red Sox manager

Tito lightens mood at Farrell's chemo session

BOSTON -- When Red Sox manager John Farrell began his chemotherapy treatment for Stage 1 lymphoma on Tuesday morning, he had a longtime friend at his side in Tribe skipper Terry Francona.

Francona, who had Farrell serve as pitching coach on his Boston staff from 2007-10, and Cleveland bench coach Brad Mills accompanied their colleague to Massachusetts General Hospital around 7:20 a.m. And in a fashion befitting his easygoing personality, Tito tried to keep the mood as light as he could.

"I met him there," Francona said. "I told him point blank, I said, 'I'm not here as your friend. You owe me $20. If something happens to you, I want $20.'"

Indians general manager Chris Antonetti also paid Farrell a visit later that morning.

Francona would not delve into details about Farrell's status, wanting to protect his privacy, but he did say that the three managed to enjoy themselves at an otherwise difficult time.

"The stories start flying, and half of them probably aren't true, but I was glad that -- under the circumstances -- that we could be there," Francona said. "It probably was good for all of us."

Torey Lovullo, who will serve as Boston's interim manager for the rest of the season, has maintained constant contact with Farrell since news of his diagnosis broke on Friday. Although Lovullo had not heard from Farrell when he met with reporters on Tuesday afternoon, he had a hunch that would change sooner than later.

"I wouldn't be surprised," Lovullo said, "if he showed up [at Fenway Park] today, just knowing his personality."

Francona simply felt fortunate to be around to support his buddy, Farrell.

"Sometimes, things happen in weird ways," he said. "And I feel really grateful for whatever reason that we were here."

Farrell starting his treatment with the Indians in town was a strange enough coincidence. But that it also falls on the same dates as the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon, a two-day fundraiser for cancer research and patient care at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, places an even brighter spotlight on those who suffer from the disease.

On Tuesday, several current and former Boston athletes made radio and television appearances for the event, including second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

"I've come in here as a visiting player several times, and you don't really know what it means until you get here," Lovullo said. "You see that it's a special bond the Boston Red Sox have with the Jimmy Fund. The reason why it's special is because we know the doctors, we know the researchers, we know the kids, we know the process and we know where the money goes. And it's such a great cause. It's been a 62-year marriage that has raised a lot of money for a great cause."

Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.