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Francona keeping bigger picture in mind


GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Back with the Red Sox in 2004, Indians manager Terry Francona learned a valuable Spring Training lesson he still uses when making the final decisions on the 25-man Opening Day roster

Boston was in need of a utility infielder, and a prospect by the name of Cesar Crespo blew the doors off the pitching Francona saw throughout the spring. In hitting .354 in 65 at-bats, Crespo won a spot on the Red Sox roster to start the season.

But in the 52 games he played that year, Crespo failed to carry over the success, batting just .165.

"He hit everything in sight in the spring; he got hot early, and those guys kind of earn at-bats," Francona said. "But he wasn't ready to be a utility player. It wasn't his fault. He was used to playing every day in Triple-A, and we kept him for two or three months, it just didn't work. It wasn't fair."

The memory of that instance is something Francona continues to carry with him.

"The point is that it's great when guys hit in camp," Francona said. "You love seeing guys hit or pitch or whatever, but when putting your team together, you can't just go off of what guys are hitting during Spring Training. You have to take into account the role and things like that, too. That's why we tell guys just to play and let us worry about the configurations of the team. When you get called up might not be on your timetable, but if you can really play, it'll happen."

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