Francona to replace Macha in Japan

Francona to manage All-Star team in Japan

For the second time in his managerial career, Boston Red Sox skipper Terry Francona will manage a Major League All-Star team.

On the eve of the start of the 102nd World Series, it was announced on Friday that Francona would replace Ken Macha, formerly of the Oakland Athletics, as the manager of the 27-member MLB All-Star contingent that will travel to Japan in November and play in a newly-formatted, best-of-five-game competition against their counterparts from Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) in "All-Star Series 2006."

The series begins on Nov. 2 against the Yomiuri Giants at the Tokyo Dome and concludes on Nov. 8 at the Yahoo Dome in Fukuoka against the Japan All-Stars.

Francona, who managed the Red Sox to a World Series championship in 2004, also was at the controls when the American League defeated the National League in the '05 All-Star Game, played in Detroit.

"Unfortunately, Ken Macha is not able to represent a Major League team and [MLB officials] called me about three nights ago and asked if I'd be willing to do it," Francona said during a conference call. "The first thing I did was call Macha to see if that was [OK], because he is one of my better friends in the game, and I believe he was one of the guys that was responsible for my name emerging as a candidate. Once I realized he was actually not just OK with it, but probably pushing it a little bit, I decided to go ahead and do it."

The All-Star coaching staff -- Manny Acta of the Mets, Ramon Henderson of the Phillies and Curt Young of the Athletics -- remains intact.

The 47-year-old Francona has compiled a 279-207 record during his three seasons with the Red Sox, twice guiding the AL East team into the playoffs. His overall MLB managerial record, which includes four years with the Philadelphia Phillies, is 564-570.

Though none of his own players are on this All-Star roster, Francona will have a squad that includes outfielders Carlos Beltran of the Mets, Andruw Jones of the Braves and Jermaine Dye of the White Sox; infielders Chase Utley and Ryan Howard of the Phillies, and Jose Reyes and David Wright of the Mets.

Twins left-hander Johan Santana and right-hander Chris Young of the Padres are among the 11 pitchers that have been selected to the MLB All-Star team. The catchers include Seattle Mariners catcher Kenji Johjima, who played for Fukuoka from 1995-2005, and MLB batting champion Joe Mauer.

"We kinda discouraged Pap [pitcher Jonathan Papelbon] and David Ortiz earlier this summer," Francona said of the Japan series. "I told [general manager Theo Epstein] that may have been a mistake. If I'd have known I was going to be the manager, I would have told David he needed to play."

The Japan contingent will be led by Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Seibu Lions pitcher and World Baseball Classic MVP, along with many other players from the World Baseball Classic Champion Team Japan.

A MLB All-Star team competed in Japan most recently in 2004, finishing 5-3 in an eight-game series. Overall, Major League Baseball All-Stars are 43-20-7 in the nine previous series.

"Beginning the baseball season with the inaugural World Baseball Classic and ending it with a competition featuring superstars from the two premier professional leagues in the world is a true testament to the global reach of our game,' said Paul Archey, senior vice president of international business operations for Major League Baseball. "This event will provide an exclamation point for what has been a truly remarkable year for Major League Baseball and the worldwide exposure of the game."

"With these games, we take an important step in heightening the competitive aspect of postseason play in Japan," said Eugene Orza, chief operating officer of the Players Association. "While friendship will always be a hallmark of the play, with such talented rosters and an expanded prize pool, these games will certainly be even more exciting and competitive than ever before."

Jim Street is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.