A Q&A with Terry Francona.
"MLB.com: Ramiro Mendoza is a guy we've hardly heard anything about all winter. He became a forgotten man last year because of injuries and ineffectiveness. What have you heard about Ramiro this winter and how does he fit in?
"Francona: I've talked to [assistant trainer] Chris Correnti, who has been monitoring Ramiro in Fort Myers, and Chris said he's doing outstanding. ... We'll give him every opportunity to bounce back and hopefully he'll be the pitcher he was. When he's throwing good, he can pitch the ninth one day and the first the next. ...
"MLB.com: You hear a lot about how Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling can rub off on each other and sort of fire each other up. Is that something you just hear about in the media, or do two highly competitive pitchers like that have a way of driving each other?
"Francona: I don't doubt that for one minute. Randy Johnson and Schilling were great for each other. They were trying to one-up the other guy. If that's the case, great. Let them push each other. Derek Lowe can jump right into that mix to and he can push them too. So can Tim Wakefield. ... The best thing about this now is that Derek Lowe pitching third in our rotation means that he'll be getting matched up a lot of times with the other team's third starter. That makes us better right there. ...
"MLB.com: Managing the Red Sox is probably the most scrutinized job in the city of Boston or the entire region of New England. You did manage in a tough market in Philly, but how do you prepare for the non-stop scrutiny that will come in the baseball hotbed that is Boston?
"Francona: I guess the best way I can do that is to prepare to do my job right. If I do that, which I will, I just have to be smart enough to know that this job comes with a ton of scrutiny. I have to do my job, and when I do it, have a reason for it. Explain the reasoning. ... Understand that people are passionate and they'll have opinions. That's the beauty of the game. I've been in winter ball when people throw bottles at you. I've had good training for this job being in Philly. I don't think it will compare, but it's a good training ground. ..."
Opening Day Countdown ... Top of the 9th looks at the Bullpen/Closer debate. ... Alex Ciepley on the expectations of baseball's first openly gay ballplayer. ... The Baseball Crank posts his "AL East Established Win Shares Level Report." ... Weapons of Mass Production: Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds and Ted Williams.