BOSTON -- There would seem to be a bit of a generation gap between the two managers in this World Series. When Tony La Russa managed his first Major League game in 1979, Terry Francona was still two seasons away from playing his first game in the bigs.
However, La Russa, the veteran manager of the Cardinals, and Francona, in his first year at the helm of the Red Sox, think highly of each other.
In 1997, when Francona was a rookie manager with the Phillies and losing at a nightmarish rate, La Russa was one of the guys who reached out to him.
"He was really good to me. Like I said, until the game starts," quipped Francona.
One of the reasons La Russa took a liking to Francona is because of the classy way he handled a tough situation.
"When you get off to a slow start at your first job, your natural instinct is to point fingers, maybe [at] the fans [and] think 'Oh, it's not really me.' But he took the high road," said La Russa. "Man, look at the way he was handling this. He was getting beat. He never did anything publicly that cost him. And they had a big second half and I think a big part was the way he handed it. Scott Rolen told me he's the best manager he ever played for."
One of the reasons it was easy for La Russa to take a liking to Francona is because of the relationship he had with his father, Tito.
"When I was a young shortstop, 18 years old, with the Kansas City A's, I roomed with [Tito]," said La Russa. "And Tito was, talk about a first-class man. Some guys treated me like I shouldn't be there, which they should have, but not Tito."
While La Russa has been widely lauded for what he has accomplished as a manager (four pennants, one World Series championship), he has a healthy respect for what Francona has done in the early stages of his career.
"He just beat one of the great managers of all time, Joe Torre," said La Russa. "So I think that Terry will do very, very well, unfortunately."
Kevin Youkilis / 3B
Weight: 220 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
Youkilis for Mendoza: The Red Sox went back to the roster they had in the Division Series, putting third baseman Kevin Youkilis back in the mix while subtracting right-handed reliever Ramiro Mendoza.
There were numerous reasons the Sox wanted to have the extra position player. The first is that they'll have two starting pitchers (Derek Lowe and Bronson Arroyo) available for relief duty in the first two games. And when the series shifts to St. Louis for Game 3, Francona likes the idea of having Youkilis to maneuver with for pinch-hitting and double switches.
Cabrera and Bellhorn switch: Though Mark Bellhorn broke out of his slump in the final two games of the American League Championship Series, Francona moved him down to ninth for Game 1. Orlando Cabrera moved up to Bellhorn's customary No. 2 slot.
With right-handed-hitting catcher Doug Mirabelli in the lineup in place of switch-hitter Jason Varitek, Francona liked the idea of having Bellhorn's left-handed bat in the bottom of the lineup.
Cabrera also had better success (.286 in seven at-bats) against Game 1 starter Woody Williams than Bellhorn (.091 in 11 at-bats).
Reunited with Womack: It's easy to forget that Tony Womack was nearly a member of the Red Sox this season instead of the Cardinals. The Sox invited Womack -- who was recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow -- to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee.
Womack was in the mix to be a utilityman, or perhaps even the starting second baseman. But the Red Sox medical staff wouldn't clear Womack to start throwing until early April. Womack, who was itching to make his impact, wasn't happy about it. The Red Sox wound up trading him to the Cardinals on March 21 for minor league pitcher Matt Duff.
"It's not a surprise that Tony is doing what he's dong," said Francona. "Physically, we thought he was going to put himself in danger to play. If he went out and hurt himself, we didn't think that was right. We thought he could play. We thought he would have been a heck of a utility guy here. But in fairness to him, we allowed him to go somewhere where they would give him opportunities, and he made the most of it."
Womack hit .307 for the Cardinals in 145 games, and started Game 1 of the World Series at second base.
Curt Schilling / P
Weight: 235 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
Schilling ready for the bunt: The Yankees chose not to bunt on Curt Schilling in Game 6 of the ALCS, even though his injured right ankle was no secret. However, Schilling, who will pitch Game 2 on Sunday night, expects the Cardinals will give him a good test on defense.
"Oh, they will," said Schilling. "Absolutely. I expect them to bunt. I expect them to try to get me to move off the mound, which we've gotten ready for. I would love to see [Albert] Pujols come down and try to lay down a bunt, or [Jim] Edmonds or Rolen. But I certainly expect them to try to push the envelope that way and run and make things happen."
Getting some love: Derek Lowe, the hero in Game 7 of the ALCS, got a thunderous ovation from the Fenway faithful during Game 1 intros. ALCS MVP David Ortiz also got an extended round of applause, as did Johnny Damon.
Quotable: "I think our philosophies are really similar. The one big difference is our SAT scores. They are very different." -- Francona, when asked about his relationship with general manger Theo Epstein.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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