Francona heaps praise on Mills
Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona, a close friend of Astros manager Brad Mills, called his former bench coach on Tuesday night to congratulate him for beating the Nationals, only to find out a late meltdown by the bullpen cost the Astros the game.
“When we lose, and it’s not possible, I want everyone to lose,” Francona said. “I want everyone to play extra innings and lose. The exception, I wanted Houston to win [Tuesday] night. I gave Millsie a nice of congratulations and then found out when I called him, they gave up eight late and so I even screwed that up.”
Mills spent six years as bench coach under Francona in Boston before being hired to manage the Astros last offseason. He was also on Francona’s staff in Philadephia before general manager Ed Wade let both of them go. Wade has said repeatedly getting rid of Francona in Philadelphia was his biggest professional mistake.
Francona isn’t surprised Mills has done so well in his first year as Astros manager. The Astros have one of the best records in baseball since the All-Star break, despite losing Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman. Mills has guided his young team through an 0-8 start that ballooned into a 41-59 into a team is making a run for second place in the NL Central.
“No, I’m not amazed,” Francona said. “Not ‘I told you so’ but all of his qualities are coming out. He started out slow, they’re getting beat up, he just kept fighting. He helped create a culture and they’re five games under .500 and they could’ve quit. All of sudden, there’s reason for optimism, guys are enjoying coming to the ballpark in September and they’re not even .500. That’s Millsie.”
Francona continued: “They lost the first eight games of the year. Some veterans weren’t happy. He did a great job. I think he’s kind of included player development and it’s his personality, he’s finally a got a chance to do it. Good for him. I don’t think that’s a surprise at all.”
Francona will bring the Red Sox to town twice next year. Once in the regular season and for two exhibition games at Minute Maid Park prior to the start of the regular season.